At Trinamool martyrs’ day celebration Mamata Banerjee asks opposition parties to form an alliance now to overthrow the BJP at the Centre in 2024

Published : July 21, 2021 21:28 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shows her mobile phone with the camera taped, during the virtual martyrs’ day rally in Kolkata on July 21. Photo: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for a coalition of parties to end the Bharatiya Janata Party rule at the Centre. Addressing the party’s annual Martyrs’ Day rally virtually on July 21, Mamata Banerjee trained her guns on the Pegasus controversy and urged leaders of political parties opposed to the BJP to come together. After thrashing the BJP and returning to power for the third consecutive term in Bengal, it was clear that she has set her sights on the Centre. “I don’t know what will happen in 2024, but we have to start our work and our planning from now.” she said.

The virtual Martyrs’ Day celebration of the Trinamool Congress, which was telecast live in various States, was attended by several top national-level leaders of different parties, including Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, P. Chidambaram and Digvijaya Singh of the Congress, Jaya Bachchan of the Samajwadi Party, Tiruchi Shiva of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, K. Keshav Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena. They had gathered at the Constitution Club in New Delhi to attend the rally. “Today we should stand united and forget our self-interest. We have only one interest and that is to save this country, to save the people, to save each and every State and to save the federal structure,” said Mamata Banerjee.

She urged each and every State party to start working together to make a “front” and not leave matters for the last moment. “If the doctor comes after death nothing will happen. If the treatment is done on time the patient can be cured. Now is your time. The more time you waste the more the situation will worsen,” said Mamata Banerjee. She expressed a wish to meet important opposition leaders during her proposed visit to New Delhi in the coming week. “If you can arrange a meeting on July 27 or 28 or 29, we can at least sit and talk about where the country is heading,” she said. She raised the Trinamool’s battle cry for the Assembly election, “Khela hobe” (the game will be played), and said, “The game was played once, now the game will be played again. Until the BJP is driven out of this country, the game will be played in every State.” She labelled the BJP as a “high-loaded virus party, which harbours viruses more dangerous than the coronavirus”.

Listing out Bengal’s achievements under her government, Mamata Banerjee said that it was Bengal that was the model State. “Gujarat is not the model. Gujarat is the model of – you know better than me what you have done,” she said. She even promised free ration to all the people of the country if her proposed Front comes to power. “In our State we give free ration…. It will be our promise to the whole nation. If our front comes to power, then we are ready to give free ration to all the people in the country,” said Mamata Banerjee.

Attacking the BJP-led government at the Centre for the Pegasus spyware controversy, she said, “They [the BJP] have forgotten how to allow people to live peacefully. Their dictatorship is just too much…. I cannot talk to Chidamabaram ji, Sharad Pawar ji, the Delhi Chief Minister, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, the Odisha Chief Minister, because my phone will be tapped. Why? Instead of giving money to the poor, you are spending money on spying. [You are] Spying, beating, killing and talking too much and doing nothing.”

Holding aloft her cell phone with its camera plastered, Mamata Banerjee said, the government of India should also be plastered thus or the country will be destroyed. “Remember using Pegasus they are tapping the phones of all of us. They can find out when you are going to sleep, what you are eating, and are scanning your brains,” she said. Mamata said the three main pillars of democracy are the election process, the media and the judiciary, and alleged that the BJP, using the Pegasus spyware, was trying to overturn democracy itself. “Your Pegasus today has captured the election process, captured the judiciary, captured the political party leaders, captured the media houses…. Now you can blackmail everyone. You want to make this a surveillance state instead of a democratic state,” said Mamata Banerjee.

The Chief Minister appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter. “My humble regards to our hon’ble Supreme Court. Everybody has great respect for you. Can’t you take a suo motu cognisance? I appeal to the Supreme Court judges to please save the country, save democracy. Or set up an SIT (Special Investigating Team) that will work under you and monitor whose phones were affected,” said Mamata Banerjee. She claimed her phone was also tapped.

Apart from the Pegasus controversy, Mamata also attacked the Centre on various issues, including the rising price of petrol and the Centre’s failure to manage the COVID crisis. “Your handling of the COVID crisis was a monumental failure. Because of you four lakh people died…. Instead of controlling the second wave of COVID you were coming to Bengal as a daily passenger [for the elections] to destroy everything,” she said.

Though she addressed various issues, the main line of her speech was the formation of a new front to overthrow the BJP at the Centre. “There is two and half years still left [for the Lok Sabha election]. There is no point in rushing, nor will it work if we form an alliance just before the election. Every day is important, so come let us form an alliance and bring light to the country,” said Mamata Banerjee, adding that she would function just as a “worker” in the alliance. “I will work as per your advice and orders,” she said.