Droupadi Murmu could have been consensus candidate, says Mamata Banerjee
Yashwant Sinha, who resigned from West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC), is the candidate of the Opposition parties for the polls.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she could have considered Droupadi Murmu, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s nominee for the presidential polls, as the consensus candidate had the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) consulted her over the nomination.
“The BJP asked for our suggestion but did not tell us who was its nominee,” she said while acknowledging Murmu has a better chance of winning.
Yashwant Sinha, who resigned from Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC), is the candidate of the Opposition parties for the polls.
“Had we known that they were planning to field a tribal lady, a member of a minority community, we could have thought about it [a consensus]. We have great respect for people from the tribal community and for women,” Banerjee said.
READ | Droupadi Murmu set for comfortable win with BJD, YSRCP’s backing
“It [consensus] happened in the case of A P J Abdul Kalam. ...we have 16-17 parties in our alliance. I cannot back out unilaterally. There are others.”
In June, Banerjee tried to bring non-BJP parties on a common platform and to put up a joint candidate for the polls.
Sinha agreed to contest after the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and former Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi turned down the requests to contest the polls.
READ | PM Modi meets Droupadi Murmu, says her nomination lauded by all
Reacting to Banerjee’s comments, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said she must be under pressure from the BJP. “It was Didi [Banerjee] who tried to thrust her decision on others. It was she who suggested Sinha’s name. Now she is trying to shed her responsibility. If she has taken a U-turn, it means she received a call from the BJP. She must be under some pressure from [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi. After all, she shares a good rapport with Modi.”
He added Congress is in this contest because it opposes the BJP. “It is a matter of principle for us.”
BJP leader Dilip Ghosh said publicity was all Banerjee wanted from the exercise. “She made the remarks because she knows that defeat is inevitable. Banerjee has been looking only for publicity. The BJP announced Murmu’s name after she fielded Sinha. She was absent when Sinha filed his nomination. Modi, [Union home minister] Amit Shah, and top BJP leaders accompanied Murmu to filing her nomination,” said Ghosh.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty said nobody asked Banerjee to bring all parties under one umbrella on this issue. “She forced her way in. Now, she is trying to keep the BJP as well as the Opposition parties happy.”