West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday claimed neither the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance nor the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance will form the government after the Lok Sabha elections, News18 reported.
The Trinamool Congress chief, in an interview to the news channel, said West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will play a critical role in forming the government at the Centre.
When asked about the Congress party’s promise of a minimum income guarantee scheme, Banerjee said the Congress will not be able to form the government alone. She said: “How will they [Congress] do it? All state parties are very strong now. I am telling you, neither NDA nor UPA will form the government. Maybe a new combination will take shape... But I can tell you that all the federal states will be fighting together. So there is hope and scope to form the government with these strong forces.”
Banerjee also claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party will not win a single seat in southern states – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. “They won’t win any seats in Punjab and Delhi either,” she said. “Even in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP’s tally will be reduced to 60 and 40. So where will they get the seats from,” she said, while asserting that West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will play a key role in determining the next government.
On Congress President Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate, Banerjee refused to comment on it and said she believed in “collective leadership”. “Whether it’s AP [Andhra Pradesh], Telangana, Odisha, Bihar or Assam, we will all sit down and choose our leader together based on the common minimum programme.”
Banerjee said her party hoped to win all of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections. She dismissed that the BJP was the main Opposition in West Bengal. “They are welcome to dream. But the reality is different. They fool people with lies.”
The Trinamool Congress had won 34 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, making it the fourth largest party in the House.
When asked about the federal front, Banerjee said she was in touch with leaders like N Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrasekhar Rao, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and Mayawati.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing himself as a “chowkidar” or watchman, Banerjee said Modi had earlier pitched himself as a chaiwala or tea-seller. “Why did he change his chaiwala poll pitch?” he asked. “You can’t heat up the same tea twice, it turns poisonous. That’s why he’s turned chowkidar. We want a chowkidar who really works for the country, who we respect, a loyal patriot.”