West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kolkata on Saturday and said that the saffron party will not win more than 150 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Addressing the Shahid Diwas (Martyrs' Day) rally in Dharmatala, Banerjee declared she would fight alone in the state. "BJP will not win more than 150 seats in 2019 elections. I don't require the assistance of the CPM or Congress in Bengal. I will fight alone here," she said.
The rally comes a day after the no-confidence motion against the Modi government was decisively defeated.
Announcing a list of programmes for the months ahead as a build-up to the 2019 general elections, the TMC chief said she will launch a "BJP hatao, desh bachao" (Remove BJP, save the country) campaign on 15 August.
Banerjee, who mooted the idea of a federal front to defeat the BJP, said, "We don't bother about the chair. We only bother about the people and the country." Taking a dig at the saffron party for the collapse of a makeshift tent at PM Narendra Modi's rally at Midnapore, she said, "They cannot build a pandal. How can they build the
The chief minister said the number of BJP's Lok Sabha seats would significantly come down in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. "During the no-confidence vote in the Lok Sabha, they (NDA) got 325 votes, but in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, their strength will come down to barely 100 seats".
Banerjee also taunted the BJP over its ally Shiv Sena not supporting it during the no-confidence motion on Friday. "Shiv Sena, your ally, did not support you (BJP). TDP, TRS did not support you," she said.
Banerjee had earlier said her party was supporting the motion against the BJP government at the Centre in the greater interest of the Opposition unity, and the TMC had issued a whip to its Lok Sabha MPs, asking them to be present in the House on Friday.
Referring to the incidents of lynching in the country, she said, "The way lynchings are happening every where in the country, it appears that they (BJP) are creating Talibans among the people. Atrocities on Dalits, minorities should be sorted out. We must break religious extremism in the country." She added that although there are people in the BJP and RSS who she respected, but there are some who are 'playing dirty games.'
On the issue of Hindutva, Banerjee said, "Being a Hindu is a synonym for sacrifice. Are we not Hindus? Do we have to take a certificate to declare we are Hindus? We don't agree with your (BJP's) Hindutva, but we follow ours. BJP is insulting Hinduism. Their hands are tainted with the blood of those who died in riots. This is a crisis for secularism."
The TMC observes 'Martyrs' Day' every year on 21 July to pay homage to 13 Youth Congress workers, allegedly killed in police firing in 1993 during the Left Front regime in West Bengal. Banerjee was a leader of the Youth Congress at that time.
TMC workers and people from across the state started gathering in the metropolis since midnight to attend the public meeting.
The rally is of immense importance given the party's ambition to play a major role after the next Lok Sabha polls, political observers said.
According to senior TMC leaders, the party's aim to play a major role at the national level can only be successful if it manages to bag the maximum number of seats out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.
The party presently has 34 Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal.
With nearly 40 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state being located in villages and semi-urban areas, the party is hoping to cash in on its stupendous performance in the May panchayat polls, where it managed to win all the zilla parishads and nearly 80 per cent of the gram panchayat seats.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2018 15:56:22 IST