Mamata Banerjee says BJP won’t cross 200, names INDIA partners who will win | Kolkata - Hindustan Times

Mamata Banerjee says BJP won’t cross 200, names INDIA partners who will win

Apr 16, 2024 09:47 PM IST

Mamata Banerjee said the TMC is a part of the INDIA bloc at the national level but accused the CPI(M) and the Congress of working with the BJP to split her party’s votes in West Bengal

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not get even 200 seats in the imminent Lok Sabha elections and the Opposition INDIA bloc parties will win in the states where they are strong, sharpening her attack on the saffron camp which has targeted at least 370 of 543 seats in the Lower House.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls in Siliguri on Tuesday. (PTI)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls in Siliguri on Tuesday. (PTI)

“They (BJP) will not cross 200. We will win in Bengal. Arvind will win in Punjab. Stalin will win. Akhilesh will win in UP. The BJP will end up with a zero,” Banerjee said at an election rally at Jalpaiguri in north Bengal, referring to the Samajwadi Party (SP) headed by Akhilesh Yadav, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) headed by Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin. The AAP won the last assembly polls in Punjab.

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Banerjee said. “We (TMC) are a part of INDIA at the national level. Here, TMC is the only party fighting against the BJP and its agencies while the CPI(M) and the Congress are working with them to split our votes.”

To be sure, the TMC is contesting against the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M)--two other opposition parties in the INDIA bloc-- in West Bengal.

Her statement at Jalpaiguri came hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured voters at the adjacent Balurghat seat, which goes to the polls in the second phase, that the BJP will have 400 seats when the poll results will be announced on June 4.

Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats while Tamil Nadu has 39 and Punjab 13. All 39 seats in Tamil Nadu go to the polls in the first phase on April 19. Polling at all seats in Punjab will be held in the last phase on June 1.

In 2019, the BJP set a record in Bengal by winning 18 of the 42 seats. The CPI(M) could not win any seat while the Congress retained only two.

The north Bengal region is all set to witness a fierce battle between the TMC and the BJP since the latter has made maximum progress in this part of the state. In 2019, the BJP posed a big challenge to the TMC in the north Bengal region by winning seven of the eight seats. The region’s Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri seats are going to the polls on April 19.

Banerjee called the BJP a party of thieves and mafia.

“They are the biggest thieves. Those who have made a lot of money go to the BJP to say safe from the ED (Enforcement Directorate), CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and Income Tax. The BJP, CBI and ED are brothers. The BJP is looting the people of this country. They are the mafia,” Banerjee said.

“Those who are confident of winning don’t need agencies all the time. This shows they are losing,” Banerjee quipped.

“The BJP is selling the nation. I appeal to the young generation to save the country from its clutches. If they brand others as thieves, tell them gali gali main shor hai, BJP bada chor hai (there is an outcry that BJP is the big thief),” Banerjee said.

“Why should people vote for the BJP? People of north Bengal and Jangal Mahal (the western districts of Bengal) voted for the BJP in the last election, but their 18 MPs went to Delhi and blocked all funds for houses (for the poor) and roads. You have the right to reply to this through the ballot box,” she said.

Banerjee referred to the three meetings she had with the Prime Minister regarding the suspension of Central funds.

“I met the Prime Minister thrice. He said officials from the Centre will meet our officials and resolve the issue. But nothing happened. Instead, their party workers were taught to call us thieves in public. The biggest thieves are those who have looted money meant for the poor. Money was looted in the name of demonetisation. Was there any audit into PM Cares funds?” Banerjee said.

Referring to the remarks Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah made regarding some criminal cases during their recent campaigns in Bengal, Banerjee said: “The Prime Minister said people will be selectively put in jail. The home minister said ‘ulta latka denge’ (accused will be hung upside down). Main bolti hun loktantra main log tumko jhatka denge (I say people will give you the jolt in democracy).”

“You (BJP) have emptied the pockets of common people. You have burnt the churches of poor people. You have paraded women naked,” Banerjee said. The last two remarks were apparently made in reference to alleged incidents reported during ethnic clashes in Manipur since last year.

Repeating what she said earlier, Banerjee claimed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is directly linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

She said: “You did not believe me but their election manifesto has vindicated my stand. If the BJP comes to power, people’s identity and democratic rights will be in danger. Tribal people, ethnic communities, scheduled caste people and minorities will be equally affected. Every community follows its own customs in life, whether during marriage or a funeral. This diversity will be erased. They will decide everything for you, including what you eat and what you wear. There will be no more elections in the country, no federal structure and no Constitution. Only the Modi government will remain if they come to power.”

“They will enforce NRC and set up detention camps as we saw in in Assam. We will not allow CAA, NRC and UCC,” she said.

BJP leaders have repeatedly accused Banerjee of misguiding people regarding the CAA which was enforced in March. It offers citizenship to Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Christian, Parsi and Sikh refugees who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015 to escape religious persecution.

“BJP workers misbehaved in front of me when I was in Chalsa. They started shouting “chor chor” (thief). I never even had a cup of tea with their father’s money. I don’t take my salary or draw pension from Parliament because I don’t need it. The bare minimum that I have is enough. If I wanted to stoop low, I could have ripped their tongues out. I am not using these words because it is the BJP’s language,” Banerjee said.

Bengal BJP chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya mocked Banerjee for expressing her confidence in the INDIA block.

“She tried everything and found that winning this election is a distant dream. She criticised construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya but started building a replica of Puri’s Jagannath temple at Digha. She wooed the Muslims and tried to befriend other parties. Nothing worked. It’s time for her to retire,” Bhattacharya said.

On Monday, while addressing two rallies in north Bengal, Banerjee said India will lose her independence and witness dictatorship if BJP returns to power. She targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called the 2024 general elections “a war for independence.”

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