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Come together to save Bengal, Mamata Banerjee appeals to Left, Congress

“Congress and CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] won’t break the nation. But I fear they (BJP) may change the Constitution. We should all come together to save Bengal,” Banerjee said in the Assembly in her first such statement since the Lok Sabha polls.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2019 07:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Kolkata
Bharatiya Janata Party,BJP,Trinamool Congress
Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Kolkata on May 15((PTI Photo/Ashok Bhaumik))

For the first time since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rattled the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in its own backyard in the general elections, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday appealed to the Left parties and the Congress to “come together” in the fight against the BJP and save Bengal.

“Congress and CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] won’t break the nation. But I fear they (BJP) may change the Constitution. We should all come together to save Bengal,” Banerjee said in the Assembly in her first such statement since the Lok Sabha polls.

“I feel all of us — TMC, Congress and CPI (M) — should come together in the fight against the BJP. It doesn’t mean we have to join hands politically, but on common issues at the national level, we can come together,” she added.

The BJP surprised poll pundits in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, winning 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats and restricting the ruling TMC to only 22.

As the BJP crowed that the chief minister was scared she would not be able to stop its rapidly advancing strides in Bengal by herself, the Left parties and the Congress accused her of helping the BJP find a foothold in the state. CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty, the Left leader in the House, trashed the proposal. “It is impossible to counter the BJP by joining hands with TMC, which is solely responsible for the BJP’s rise in Bengal...,” he said.

Pradesh Congress president Somen Mitra said, “She has created her Frankenstein. The genie is out of the bottle and she is desperate.”

Banerjee urged Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan to concentrate on fighting the BJP in the state. Mannan, however, said, “We don’t need lessons from Mamata Banerjee on ways to fight the BJP. It is due to her policies that the BJP has gained ground in Bengal...”

CPI(M) legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty too echoed Mannan’s views. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw a polarisation that resulted in the Left and the Congress being pushed to irrelevance in Bengal. “She is aiming at an anti-BJP polarisation in her favour and looking to wean the remaining vote share of the Left and the Congress,” said Maidul Islam, political analyst and assistant professor of political science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.

The BJP claimed Banerjee was nervous. National executive member Mukul Roy, considered one of the architects of the BJP’s rise in Bengal, said, “Her statement is an admission that TMC alone cannot take on the BJP. Her party is decaying and will weaken further.” State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said Banerjee’s appeal to the Congress and the CPI-M is a reflection of the “fear psychosis” that gripped the TMC

First Published: Jun 26, 2019 23:56 IST