Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said she would be happy to see BJP patriarch LK Advani as the next President of India but would not mind if Union minister Sushma Swaraj or Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan became the country’s first citizen.
The comments came during a 45-minute TV interview aired by a Bengali channel on Thursday night.
Banerjee also refrained from attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and and BJP president Amit Shah, named the BJP only a few times and referred to the RSS as a “saffron” outfit.
Asked why the sole Trinamool MP in Manipur was supporting the BJP government, she said: “These things happen in the north-eastern states. Money decides politics out there. I don’t even know this man.”
Refusing to accept the results to the Uttar Pradesh elections, Banerjee said: “There is something fishy with the final numbers. I am wondering why Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress have not lodged complaints about EVM machines like Mayawati. They can still move court.”
She said the the Bahujan Sawajwadi Party and Samajwadi Party should contest the 2019 general elections as allies as the Congress is weak in UP.
“The saffron brigade is so keen to spread in Bengal because it knows that fate of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be decided by Bengal. Don’t be surprised if you see Trinamool Congress leading the nation or offering crucial support to the next government.”
The chief minister said her party will field candidates for assembly polls in Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. “I keep getting invitation from people in many states. Wait and watch,” she said.
At a time when a number of Trinamool MPs and ministers are facing a probe by the CBI over the Narada scam, Banerjee said she made a mistake by sending industrialist KD Singh to the Rajya Sabha and announced that Bengal police was probing a chit fund owned by Singh.
It was Singh’s media venture, Tehelka, that carried out the sting operation in 2014. Mathew Samuel, who caught the Trinamool leaders on camera, released the tapes in 2016 after forming his own company, Narada News.
“Complaints have been lodged against Singh’s chit fund. Now law will take its own course,” said Banerjee.
Alleging that the sting operation was the brainchild of BJP, Congress and CPI(M) leaders, Banerjee said: “I saw a photograph of KD Singh with former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Singh also held shares in a local TV channel. I thought he was a good man and made him an MP. I made a blunder. He has links with BJP leaders. I haven’t met him in four years. Probably he keeps in touch with our MPs in Delhi,” said the chief minister.
She reiterated that her party leaders had been “framed” and offering bribe was a crime as well. “The person (Samuel) posed as a journalist and told Iqbal Ahmed (Kolkata’s deputy mayor who took Samuel to most of the accused) that he wanted to interview our leaders. I hold no prejudice against the CBI. I want the truth to be exposed,” said Banerjee.