The president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, on Saturday said Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee was the best bet to become the first prime minister from the state.

Ghosh made the remarks after wishing Banerjee on her 64th birthday. “West Bengal’s fate depends on her success,” he said. “She needs to be in good health because if someone from Bengal is selected a prime minister she has the brightest chance.”

Ghosh pointed out that former Chief Minister and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Jyoti Basu “could have been the first Bengali to get that opportunity but his party did not allow him”.

The West Bengal BJP chief said Pranab Mukherjee had become the first Bangla-speaking president, and now it is time to have a Bengali prime minister.


Later in the day, Ghosh attempted to clarify his comments and claimed he had wished Banerjee luck as she dreams of being elected prime minister, the Hindustan Times reported. “Of course, Narendra Modi will lead the country again in 2019,” he said.

“I was asked a question to which I replied that my wishes will be with her if she becomes the prime minister, that is only what I said,” ANI quoted Ghosh as saying. “But there is no possibility at all of it happening. These things are to be taken in good humour.”

BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha claimed the footage of Ghosh’s comments was a “conspiracy” hatched by Trinamool Congress leaders. “I have not seen the video and hence cannot comment,” he added. “But I can say for sure that it is a conspiracy hatched by Trinamool Congress. A party that cannot even rule Bengal should not dream of ruling India.”