West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said the Opposition’s alliance has 10 prime ministerial candidates and that they will finalise a name after the Lok Sabha elections, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. In an interview with the newspaper, the Trinamool Congress chief said the Opposition’s current priority is to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi from power.
Banerjee said it will not take too long to narrow down on a prime ministerial candidate.
To a question about her possible candidature for the prime minister’s post, Banerjee said that is not the priority now. “I wanted Opposition unity,” Banerjee said. “Someone needs to bell the cat. So I tried to organise an Opposition rally in Kolkata. All Opposition leaders joined the conclave. We have several senior leaders, Sharad Pawar, Sharad Yadav, [HD] Devegowda. We have 10 prime ministerial candidates. After elections we all can sit together and finalise a name.”
The chief minister was referring to her United India rally in Kolkata in January.
Banerjee downplayed the incidents of violence in her state during polling. “There are a few small incidents,” she said. “It happens everywhere during elections. A section of national media that is controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party highlights it. They want to show Bengal in a bad light. Also, there are a lot of fake pictures doing the rounds on social media. They are old photos, some are even photos from other countries. Once they put up a picture from Bangladesh. It’s very sad.”
She dismissed a query about the Centre claiming that she does not cooperate with the Union government. “It is a big lie,” Banerjee said. “I was called for the Inter-State Council meeting twice and I went both times. But nothing happens in those meetings. Only the Prime Minister talks and we listen.”
On May 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee traded barbs over the state’s response to Cyclone Fani. Modi claimed Banerjee did not take his call when he tried to talk to her about the storm, while Banerjee said she could not take Modi’s call as she was in Kharagpur monitoring the situation.