After a landslide victory in the assembly elections, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, is getting ready for a “united” fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.
“We have to start planning now,” said Banerjee while addressing people virtually on Martyrs’ Day, the biggest annual event organised by her party, the Trinamool Congress, to commemorate 13 deaths in a police firing during a Youth Congress rally in 1993.
The event–held virtually this year due to Covid-19–was live-streamed on giant screens not only across West Bengal, but even in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam, Delhi, Tripura and Tamil Nadu.
Several leaders from Opposition parties were present for the screening in Delhi – from the Congress, NCP, SP, AAP to the Shiv Sena, among others.
Banerjee thanked them for their presence and said that she would be in Delhi for a few days. “I would like to meet all important Opposition leaders,” she said.
Much of Banerjee’s speech focused around the Pegasus spyware controversy. Banerjee said that she could not speak freely with other Opposition leaders because her phone was tapped and she had plastered the camera on her phone.
“We should plaster the Centre, otherwise the country will be destroyed. They want to make it a surveillance state,” she said.
There are three pillars in a democracy – the Election Commission, media and the judiciary – Pegasus captured all three, Banerjee said.
She urged the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognizance of the Pegasus issue.
Banerjee also attacked the Centre on a “monumental failure” in managing the Covid-19 second wave and said that unemployment was increasing and prices were skyrocketing.
Pointing out how Bengal fought against all “odds” in the assembly elections, Banerjee said, “BJP leaders during West Bengal Assembly polls travelled like daily passengers.”
Banerjee urged Opposition leaders for a Gathbandhan for 2024. “Khela” will happen in all states till the BJP is removed from the country, she said.
This is not the first time that Banerjee is rallying Opposition parties to take on the BJP. Political analysts, however, pointed out that alliances in the past had failed and plans met with little success.
Whether it will be different this time around is an open question, but taking a swipe, BJP Bengal president, Dilip Ghosh, commented on a television channel that similar efforts by Banerjee had cost her seats in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Trinamool Congress won 22 of the 42 seats, down from 34 that it had won in 2014 while the BJP became a serious challenger with 18 seats. However, Trinamool sealed the high-stakes assembly election months back with a resounding victory, bagging 213 seats in the 294-assembly.
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