Mumbai: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she had suggested to the Congress that an advisory council comprising prominent personalities from civil society be set up to give a direction to the opposition, but rued that the plan did not materialise.
If all regional parties come together, it would be easy to defeat the BJP, Banerjee said while interacting with some civil society members here.
“We want to say BJP hatao, desh bachao,” she said, adding that her party Trinamool Congress (TMC) will not contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
“I don’t want my opposition to make their own strategy. So, I am not revealing much,” she said.
Banerjee is on a three-day visit to Mumbai to meet leaders of the Shiv Sena and the NCP, amid a strain in ties between the TMC and the Congress.
After its landslide victory in West Bengal earlier this year, the TMC inducted several Congress leaders in its fold. Recently, 12 out of 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya defected to the TMC, making it the principal opposition party.
To a query on if she would lead the opposition alliance against the BJP, Banerjee said she is a “small worker” and wants to continue so.
“Continous endeavour is necessary in politics. You can’t be abroad most of the time,” she said in a veiled dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
“I had suggested to the Congress that there should be an advisory council comprising prominent personalities from the civil society to give a direction to the opposition, but in vain,” she said.
Banerjee said the BJP is “not safe” and the need is to keep the country safe.
“Have faith in your cadre. Three farm laws were repealed (by the Centre) and a debate was not allowed in Parliament…why? Because they are afraid and the decision to repeal (the farm laws) was made with an eye on the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections,” she claimed.
“I am not contesting the UP elections,” she said adding that her party will work for all sections of the society without bias, but the focus will be on the poor people.
She said laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) were being misused in the country.
“The UAPA is for the internal security and protection from external forces. This is not for common people. The UAPA is being misused like anything. The I-T department, CBI ED are also being misused,” the TMC chief claimed.
Banerjee said there was no need to be afraid and that she will fight till her last breath.
The West Bengal CM also said she was against the sell out of public sector enterprises.
“More employment should be created. We feel the public and the private sector should co-exist, but employment and the poor should not be impacted,” she said.
On her meeting scheduled with NCP president Sharad Pawar later in the day, Banerjee said Maharashtra and West Bengal have good relations and that is why she is going to meet Pawar.
“Let’s be united, give justice to people and save our country and democracy,” she said.
Banerjee appealed to members of the civil society to travel to across country to generate awareness towards this cause.
On the occasion, NCP leader Majeed Memon said West Bengal and Maharashtra account for 90 Lok Sabha seats and claimed the BJP’s strength can be reduced substantially in the Lower House of Parliament.
Noted lyricist Javed Akhtar, social activist Medha Patkar, actor Richa Chadha and stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui were among those who participated in the interaction.
On Tuesday, Banerjee met Shiv Sena leaders Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut.
The meeting was seen as an outreach to fellow opposition leaders by the TMC head.
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