Tejashwi Yadav meets Mamata Banerjee, offers full support in Bengal polls
- The RJD will contest a few assembly seats in Bengal as an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav met Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee Monday afternoon and offered his full support to her in the coming assembly polls in Bengal.
“Many people from Bihar and other states reside in Bengal. I appeal to all people from Bihar to unitedly support Mamata Ji. I will use my full strength to support her. This election is about protecting Bengal and its culture, which is unique. This is a fight to save Bengal’s values. Our leader Lalu Prasad Ji wants this,” Yadav said referring to his father, shortly after meeting Banerjee at Nabanna, the state secretariat.
Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav is currently serving jail sentence in the fodder scam case that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started probing in mid-1990.
The RJD will contest a few seats as an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). Yadav arrived in Bengal two days ago and held meetings with party workers.
“At a time when the nation’s ministers should be working hard to save the country and the people they are all camping in Bengal. The BJP is spreading lies. It is selling the assets of the nation, such as the railways and the Steel Authority of India,” said Yadav.
Banerjee was present when the young RJD leader was talking to reporters.
“I congratulate Tejashwi. He is a young leader. The BJP used all kinds of tricks to stop him from winning the Bihar elections. But I know he will lead Bihar very soon. The way Laloo Prasad Ji is suffering in jail is unfair. The BJP should get the message. Wherever Tejashwi is fighting, I am fighting. And where I am fighting, he is fighting. You (BJP) cannot win this election no matter how hard you control the media and how big you talk,” said Banerjee.
Yadav accused the BJP of not doing anything for the development of Bihar. “They did not even make Patna University a Central university. They promised to generate 20,00,000 jobs but nothing has happened. During the Covid-19 lockdown labourers from Bihar were treated badly. Nothing was done to send them home from other states. People died while walking on highways and were run down by trains. Their numbers were more than those who died of Covid-19,” said Yadav.
“In sharp contrast, Mamata ji was on the streets, helping people. No matter how much we praise her, it won’t be enough,” said Yadav.
The RJD is an ally of the Congress in Bihar and the two parties are trying to contest the Assam election together.
Asked whether the RJD's support to the TMC against which the Congress is contesting in Bengal, would affect his party's political equations with the grand old party, Yadav said, "Our alliance with Congress is in Bihar. These alliances depend on political situations which vary from region to region."
Bengal Congress leaders did not comment on Yadav's statements till Monday evening.
The RJD and Maharashtra's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders held talks with TMC leaders last month and agreed to form an alliance against the BJP in the Bengal assembly polls.
Bihar’s ruling party, the Janata Dal (United), or JDU, the Samajwadi Party (SP) from Uttar Pradesh; Jharkhand’s ruling party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena have also decided to contest the polls either in alliance with the TMC or independently.
The entry of the regional parties has triggered the possibility of a split in votes cast by Hindi-speaking and tribal people.
A large number of people with roots in Bihar are permanent residents of Bengal. The state is also home to a large number of migrant workers from Bihar.
BJP’s Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh brushed aside any threat to the party from the RJD’s alliance with the TMC.
"Many regional parties were seen supporting Mamata Banerjee before the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 but we have seen how they faced defeat. They will face the same fate again. Those who lack confidence need crutches. We are confident of winning more than 200 seats," Ghosh said.
While the BJP has been claiming that it will win more than 200 of the 294 assembly seats in the state while election strategist Prashant Kishor, who was roped in by Banerjee in 2019 after the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, has announced on social media that he will leave his profession if the saffron party bags more than 99 seats.
BJP’s Barrackpore Lok Sabha member Arjun Singh, who formed the TMC’s Hindi cell before joining the saffron camp in 2019, recently told HT that no regional party can make any difference in the coming polls since it is a direct contest between the BJP and TMC.