‘TMC will expand to other states, take BJP head-on’: Abhishek Banerjee
Daring the BJP to stop dynastic politics by passing a bill in Parliament, Banerjee took on Amit Shah and his son.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) will expand its base in other states to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and win elections, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee said on Monday afternoon at his first press conference after being elected the party’s new national general secretary on June 5.
Banerjee said the TMC will come up with a national plan within a month and it would be different from what the party tried in the past.
Thwarting the BJP’s allegation that his rise in the hierarchy established dynastic rule in the TMC, the young Lok Sabha MP said he will not become a minister in 20 years and dared the BJP to pass a bill in Parliament to prohibit a second member from a family from joining politics or any office. “You (BJP) do it and I will be the first to resign,” he quipped.
On the expansion plan, Banerjee said, “Whichever state we start our unit in, be it a big state, a southern India, a northern India or one in the Northeast, we will take the BJP head-on and we will start our unit to win the state. Let me put this across to all of you.”
Though he avoided questions on whether Mamata Banerjee will emerge as a candidate for the post of chairman of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which is held by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, Banerjee said, “We have received more than one than 1,00,000 emails till now. There is no state from where people have not congratulated us. Bengal has set an example. It did not surrender to the outsiders. Our target is not to defeat BJP. We want to save India. People from all states are saying Mamata Banerjee can save the values of the Constitution and she is the only one who can protect national institutions.”
“This was an election between Mamata Banerjee and the BJP but it was a fight for people of Bengal and rest in India, be it Rajasthan or the Northeast. All were looking at Bengal. Now there is hope. Within a month, we will come up with a concrete plan on what TMC wants to do, which are the states where we want to start our units and what is our expansion plan,” said Banerjee.
“This attempt of Trinamool to go national is going to be different from what it attempted in the past. If we go to any state, no matter how small or big, we will not go only to take part in elections, not to win one or two seats and not to increase vote share. We will do so to win that state. We want to be the platform of choice for people of that particular state. We don’t want to exist in the form of opposition,” he added.
Banerjee said till the TMC works on its expansion plans he would not say whether it would forge an alliance with the Congress. Asked whether the TMC will contest polls in Gujarat, he said, “Till we formalize our plans, I will leave the speculation alive.”
Amit Malviya, head of the BJP’s national information technology cell, had tweeted that Banerjee’s elevation in the TMC established dynastic politics.
Banerjee said, “On one hand, the BJP says TMC does not exist outside West Bengal while on the other hand, it is perplexed that Abhishek Banerjee has been made national general secretary. I have said this earlier also. I request Malviya to drive to his bosses in Lutyen’s Delhi and make a bill that every family will have one representative and nobody else from that family will be allowed to enter politics or any public office for that matter.”
“What is stopping them from executing this? They are running the Central government. Why can’t they pass a bill on the floor of the House? You do it. I will be the first one to resign. Preach what you practice. You induct even turncoats from dynasties. You should stop talking,” said Banerjee in an indirect reference to the Bengal assembly’s leader of the opposition Suvendu Adhikari who switched sides in December last year and defeated Mamata Banerjee in the state polls. Adhikari’s father and brother are TMC Lok Sabha MPs from East Midnapore district.
“You are exposing your own hypocrisy. First, you should remove leaders of your own party whose sons are MLAs and ministers. Amit Malviya does not need to teach me what is right and what is wrong. You split parties and take people who come from dynasties. You have the Union home minister and honorary secretary of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) from the same family. Can Amit Malviya shoot the question to the home minister? I am saying on record that I don’t want to be in the state government or hold any ministerial berth in the next 20 years. Can Jay Shah come up and say he doesn’t want to be BCCI president in the next 20 years?” said Banerjee, referring to Amit Shah and his son.
“Trinamool is the only party attempting to implement the one-man-one-post policy. Which other party has attempted this? We are at least trying to move in the right direction and you are talking about dynasty. Your entire campaign was on dynasty and you got the answer from people. Sometimes dynasty is better than being nasty. Take it that way,” Banerjee quipped.
Reacting to his statements, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “Amit Shah’s son is not in the race for chief minister. Banerjee cited an irrelevant example. People of India know what dynastic politics means.”
Bhattacharya also described the TMC’s expansion plan as unrealistic.
“It is overambitious adventurism. It may sound nice in India’s pluralistic society but nonviable,” he said.
Banerjee also took on Adhikari for the latter’s recent statement that if post-poll violence does not stop then migrant workers from Bengal run the risk of losing jobs in other states. “I saw what he said about the four million Bengalis who work outside the state. People do not like this sort of statements. I advise him to refrain from such a campaign and do his work as an opposition leader. Banerjee did not utter Adhikari’s name.
Banerjee said many BJP leaders, including some who won the recent polls, were willing to join the TMC. “Many BJP MLAs have contacted us, expressing their wish to return. Our working committee will discuss this at its next meeting,” he said.
Without commenting on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s reply to TMC MP Mahua Moitra’s allegation that the former has employed his relatives at Raj Bhawan, Banerjee said, “He should behave like a governor instead of working at the instruction of a political party. Why doesn’t he give names and details of the BJP workers who are alleged to be under attack? I request the media to help us fight the menace of fake news. There have been some incidents of post-poll violence but not a single incident took place after Mamata Banerjee took over as chief ministers. Our leaders are reaching out to people.”
Banerjee met senior TMC MPs and party veterans on Sunday and Monday to seek their blessings and advice.