Opposition to Decide on PM Face After BJP’s Inevitable Fall in 2019, Says Mamata Banerjee, Predicts Tally

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said the thorny issue of leadership of the grand opposition alliance would only be addressed after the BJP is removed from power in 2019.

Speaking at News18’s Rising Bengal 2018 event in Kolkata, Banerjee said, “Chehara (face) is important but it will be a collective decision after defeating the BJP.”

Arguing for the opposition to act like a united family, she said the BJP would try to divide the parties by sowing dispute in their ranks with talk of leadership. “The BJP may try as much it wants, but it will not succeed in dividing the opposition,” she said.

Banerjee, who has played a key role in uniting parties against the BJP, has been considered a front runner for the PM face and has received the backing of the likes of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda despite clamour in the Congress party for Rahul Gandhi to take on the mantle of the opposition face.

Gandhi himself, however, has said he’ll be happy to stand aside for one of the allies. Apart from Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati has also staked claim in the past while RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said there are others in contention too.

The Bengal CM said it is time for the opposition to move forward and “not repeat mistakes”.

“We have to be careful about the divide and rule politics of BJP. They (BJP) even tried to create a rift between Advani ji and Atal ji. They are trying to create a rift between Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh. We have to say ‘no’ to BJP and ‘yes’ to others,” she said.

Accusing the BJP government of “showing audacity and arrogance”, Banerjee said it has failed in all respects and will be defeated in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and even predicted that the party would not win 200 seats in the Lok Sabha election.

“I personally think that 2019 election will be people’s election. It will be people’s referendum. People already got the message about BJP’s hate politics. People don’t want BJP and I am sure they will not even cross the 200 mark in 2019,” she said.

Rubbishing BJP’s ambition of winning 25 seats in Bengal, she said Trinamool would win all 42 seats while the lotus would be left with zero, two less than last time. The BJP will also lose in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha and Punjab in 2019, she added.

“In Tamil Nadu, DMK’s MK Stalin will win and AIADMK will lose. In UP, if Mayawati and Mulayam ji contest together, then there is no chance of BJP. Overall assessment is – BJP’s fall is inevitable in 2019,” she said, but expressed reservations about the result in Telangana.

She charged the BJP with bringing in “militant Hinduism” and claimed many people had been lynched during its rule. “We (TMC) want to see the country united. We don’t support militant Hinduism. In the name of so-called Hinduism, they have evolved their own theories which even we as Hindus can’t understand. We don’t support militant Hinduism, we support liberal Hinduism,” she said.

“If ISIS is a terrorist organization, then they are (hinted towards RSS/BJP) also Hindu militants. It is also there in CIA record,” she added.

The TMC chief also attacked the Narendra Modi government for “botching up” the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, saying citizens were being harassed for vote bank politics. NRC has become a poll issue in the state and Mamata and BJP chief Amit Shah have repeatedly taken each other on over it.

“I am not in favour of illegal immigrants but please don’t harass those who are Indians. They have selected people to push back on the basis of their Bangla language. We will not tolerate this. Earlier, central government means that they are the guardians of states. But now people are scared. There is an atmosphere of fear everywhere in the country,” she said.

Banerjee said that people are scared of the Prime Minister, but had never faced such a situation in the past. “I never faced a problem with Sushma Swaraj, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Rajnath Singh. But now people are scared. This is unfortunate and I think if it continues (under BJP’s rule) then the country will be finished. BJP should not work with militant attitude,” she said.

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