The Bengal election results have proved that the BJP can be defeated and people have shown the way, Mamata Banerjee said today on her remarkable victory. “They need political oxygen,” she quipped in an exclusive interview to NDTV. The Chief Minister also blamed the ruling party for the post-poll violence in Bengal, alleging that it was the “BJP’s baby” and the party was acting up in its defeat.
“It is their baby. They have spoiled the situation. Some sporadic incidents are there, but that will be tackled. After election it happens in every state. I don’t want any violence or anything. BJP is trying to create communal clash, because of their shameful defeat,” she said, insisting that she had been telling her supporters to stay indoors and not celebrate at all.
“They have lost their credibility. Till now even law and order was being handled by the Central forces, not by me. So, this is their doing, they are to blame for spoiling the situation if this is true.”
She accused the party of trying to create communal tension, especially in areas where it has won.
Defying most projections, Mamata Banerjee won 213 seats (total 292) in Bengal, limiting the BJP to double digits (77).
“The BJP can be defeated. At the end of the day it is a democracy and it is the people’s choice that matters. People have shown the way. In a democracy you should not show audacity or ego. I will request the Election Commission to follow rajdharma and back not only the BJP but all parties,” she told NDTV, bringing up her party’s allegations about the poll body’s bias and discrimination.
“The BJP is a communal party, they are trouble-mongers, they are creating fake videos, they are misusing their powers, they misuse agencies; they want to demolish federalism, bulldoze the federal character of the country.”
She continued: “They are not allowing universal vaccination. They are not giving oxygen to people. I think they need oxygen more now. They need political oxygen.”
People must come together to fight the BJP, she said.
“This kind of agency politics (using CBI, Enforcement Directorate) should come to an end and that will be the end of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era of politics. Even the old BJP members reject the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah style of politics. The country cannot face this kind of politics anymore. There are many better candidates than Modi and Amit Shah.”
But the firebrand politician, set for her third term as Bengal Chief Minister, was cautious on the possibility of emerging as the opposition’s candidate to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024.
“Sometimes you cannot decide all the things right now. It is different during election time. There has to be a common minimum programme…Now is the time to fight the Covid battle. After the Covid battle is over, we will decide, we will set up an expert team also so that they can guide us. Automatically it will come up. Because the country cannot face this disaster. This BJP means disaster.”
Asked whether she would share credit with anyone for her smashing poll victory, Ms Banerjee sidestepped a question on poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who crafted the Trinamool’s campaign.
“I share this victory with the people. It is their victory and I dedicate it to them.”
On Sunday evening, after her win, Ms Banerjee emerged without a wheelchair for the first time in two months; a leg injury she suffered on March 10 in Nandigram left her managing her campaign in a wheelchair.
At her fittest, the two-time Chief Minister walks 25 km every day for two hours and loves to hop on the treadmill whenever she can.
“I am not able to walk on the treadmill. I used to walk two hours on the treadmill earlier. It will still take 15 more days for me to walk naturally,” she said, sharing that she missed her long walks and had “even put on weight” in the past two months.