Bengal saved India today: Mamata on landslide victory

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(Eds: Adding details) Kolkata, May 2 (PTI) Thanking the people as the Trinamool Congress headed for a landslide victory in the assembly elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Sunday that West Bengal has 'saved' India with its mandate.

Banerjee said tackling the COVID-19 pandemic was her priority, asking party leaders not to organise any victory rally.

'It is the victory of the people of Bengal, the victory of democracy. Bengal has saved India today. This landslide victory came after fighting against several odds -- the Centre, its machinery, its agencies. This victory has saved the humanity,' Banerjee said, addressing the press as she stood on her feet for the first time in nearly two months.

'I am doing well now. I told you a few days back that I have recovered and will remove the plaster,' she said, referring to the injury she received on March 10 during her visit to Nandigram, which forced her to continue the election campaign on a wheelchair.

Reiterating her pre-poll promise, Banerjee said her government will provide free vaccines to the people of the state.

'I urge the Centre to give free vaccines to every Indian. To vaccinate 140 crore people, Rs 30,000 crore is needed to be spent. I will sit in protest before the Mahatma Gandhi statue here if the Centre does not accept this demand,' she said.

Banerjee said that even though her party received a landslide mandate, no grand oath-taking ceremony will be organised.

'Tackling COVID-19 is my priority right now. It's no time for celebrating victory. Once the pandemic is over, a mega rally will be organised in the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata,' she said.

The chief minister also hit out at the Election Commission over its conduct of the polls, alleging her party was treated badly.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Banerjee said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah spoke of a 'double-engine' government, her party hit a double- century in the elections.

'I targeted 221 as this is 2021. We reached near that figure and I thank the people of Bengal,' she said.

Banerjee alleged that some 'mischief' happened in Nandigram, asserting that she will move court against it.

'We have won so big in Bengal but I respect the verdict of the people of Nandigram. Let people of Nandigram decide. Whatever their verdict is, I accept that. It is okay,' she said.

'But, I also feel there was some mischief as after the news of my victory came things changed. Then, heard that the result has changed. I will later move court on this issue,' Banerjee said. PTI SUS PNT SOM SOM