West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday asked all opposition parties – the Left Front and the Congress – to work together in the state to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party, reported ANI. In the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party won 18 out of 42 seats in West Bengal, reducing the Trinamool Congress’ tally from 34 to 22.
“The people of the state are witnessing in Bhatpara what happens if you vote for the BJP,” Banerjee said in the state Assembly, according to The Indian Express. “I feel all of us – TMC, Congress and CPI(M) – should come together in the fight against the BJP. It doesn’t mean we have to join hands politically, but on common issues at the national level, we can come together.”
Banerjee had urged leader of Opposition and Congress leader Abdul Mannan to stop abusing her party in Bengal. She told him to concentrate on fighting the BJP within the state, PTI reported.
“We don’t need lessons from Mamata Banerjee on ways to fight the BJP,” Mannan responded to Banerjee. “It is due to her policies that the BJP has gained ground in Bengal. She should first accept that it is due to her fault that the BJP has made inroads in Bengal.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty also blamed Banerjee for the rise of the BJP in the state.
Bharatiya Janata Party state president Dilip Ghosh said that Bannerjee’s appeal to opposition shows the “fear psychosis” that has gripped her party. “It only shows that the TMC and Mamata Banerjee are afraid about the growth of the BJP in Bengal,” Ghosh said. “She has very well understood that she is going to lose the next Assembly elections in the state.”
Bhatpara has witnessed a series of clashes since May 19 when Assembly bye-elections were held. The fight has intensified since Arjun Singh crossed over to the BJP from the Trinamool Congress. Singh won the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, defeating Trinamool Congress’s Dinesh Trivedi. In the bye-elections, Singh’s son Pawan Singh defeated Trinamool Congress candidate and former state minister Madan Mitra.
The latest clash was reported on June 22 after a BJP delegation visited the troubled area. The delegation, led by former Union minister SS Alhuwalia, visited Bhatpara to meet the family members of the two people who were killed in clashes in the area on June 20. Seven people had also been wounded in the clashes. An unidentified police officer said 16 people have been arrested in connection with the June 20 violence.
On Wednesday, Banerjee said there was nothing wrong if she tried to discipline her party workers. Her comments were in reference to the uproar in the Assembly over the “cut money” allegations against her party members. “No one can malign us without evidence,” said Banerjee, according to The Indian Express. On Monday, Congress and CPM legislators had staged a walkout to protest against the matter, and demanded an inquiry into it.
Last week, she had warned party leaders that anyone caught taking a bribe would be arrested. She had also asked leaders to return any “cut money” they had taken from the people of their area.
On Tuesday, a Trinamool Congress leader returned Rs 2.27 lakh to villagers in Birbhum district that he had collected as “cut money” or bribe charged for government schemes. Trilochan Mukherjee returned Rs 1,617 each to 141 villagers.