West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that she is not averse to working with the Congress to oust the BJP government at the centre which is behaving like “a hundred Hitlers”. The TMC president, in an interview to a magazine, said she shares very good relations with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi but has never worked with Congress President Rahul Gandhi, whom she described as “much junior”. To questions about prime ministerial ambitions, Banerjee said she has “no intent”. However, she was ambivalent when asked if she was not ruling herself out of the race.
“Instead of preparing for PM candidature, let us work together,” she said in the interview to India Today which was posted on its website. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief said she has no problems working with anybody as long as their intentions and philosophy are clear. On her ties with the Congress leadership, Banerjee said, “What I can say about Rajivji or Soniaji I cannot say about Rahul because he is much junior.”
“I don’t have any problem. My intention will be to unite with all. But it is not my decision alone. It has to be the decision of all the regional parties. I have no problem working with anybody as long as they are efficient, and their intentions, their philosophy, their ideology are clear,” she said when asked if she is not averse to dealing with the Congress or having an understanding with the party.
Banerjee, while speaking on the issue of some Opposition parties wanting to forge a federal front without the Congress, noted that some parties don’t support the Congress as they have their own regional compulsions. “I don’t blame them. I say let’s work against the BJP together. If the Congress is strong and gets more seats in some places, let it take the lead. If the regional parties are together somewhere else, they can be the decision-makers,” she said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi had yesterday held individual meetings with senior party leaders from West Bengal in the national capital to know their views on strengthening the state unit and on the way forward ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year. A section of Congress leaders has shown inclination to have a tie-up with the TMC in West Bengal which has a total of 42 Lok Sabha seats. PCC chief Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, however, is not in favour of party having any truck with Mamata Banerjee’s party.
The TMC chief expressed confidence that a grand alliance of opposition parties is possible. On her idea of fielding a common candidate against the BJP, she said, “I am not saying that. If it is done for 75 seats, then the game will be over. If (BSP supremo) Mayawati and (SP chief) Akhilesh (Yadav) work together in Uttar Pradesh, the game will be over. Then after the elections, a common minimum agenda can be prepared. It is a big family, let it be a collective decision.”
Asked about the possibility of becoming the prime minister, she said, “Me? It is a very silly question. First I will say I have no intent. I told you, I am a simple person and happy with my job. But we want to help everybody as members of a collective family. Instead of preparing for PM candidature, let us work together.”
On whether she is not ruling herself out, she said, “Who am I to rule out anything? I know I am a seasoned politician, a very senior politician now, after my struggles. I have been MP seven times, MLA twice and a CM twice. So I cannot say anything that others may not like”. Banerjee, who has floated the idea of federal front, has been meeting several influential leaders to cobble up a strong opposition alliance against the BJP. “They are committing atrocities, inflicting torture. Even some BJP people are not supporting them. They are behaving like a hundred Hitlers,” she said in a blistering attack on the BJP-led government at the centre.