Mamata calls for a 'united and effective' struggle against BJP, says oppn should present a 'credible alternative'

·6-min read

New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI) As she faces a high-stakes poll battle in West Bengal, TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said the time has come for a 'united and effective' struggle against the BJP's alleged attacks on democracy and the Constitution, and that opposition leaders should try present a 'credible alternative' to the people of the country.

In a letter to the non-BJP leaders including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi released by the Trinamool Congress(TMC) on Wednesday, Banerjee also alleged that the Centre-State relations were at its worst since independence.

The missive came on the eve of the second phase of the Assembly polls in West Bengal in which Banerjee is locked in a fierce fight in Nandigram constituency against her protege turned adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.

Banerjee's letter is being seen as an attempt to portray her as a rallying point for all parties opposed to the BJP, which has mounted an aggressive campaign to dislodge her from power in West Bengal after a 10-year rule. Before the TMC, the state was ruled for over three decades by the Left Front, which has now joined hands with the Congress to challenge both Banerjee's party and the BJP.

'I strongly believe that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against the BJP's attacks on democracy and the Constitution.

'As the Chairperson of All India Trinamool Congress, I shall work wholeheartedly with you and all other like-minded political parties in this battle. We can win this battle only with unity of hearts and minds, and by presenting a credible alternative to the people,' she said.

The BJP hit back at Banerjee, saying that democracy should be the last word in her dictionary.

'Democracy should be the last word in @MamataOfficial & @AITCofficial dictionary. Their cadre attack @BJP4Bengal candidates, intimidate voters, capture booths, block all hoardings and at the end leaders preach Democracy,' BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh tweeted.

In her three-page letter, Banerjee suggested that the opposition leaders deliberate on the issues raised by her and chart a plan of action after the conclusion of the ongoing Assembly elections in four states and the union territory of Puducherry. The eighth phase of the elections in West Bengal on April 29 will be the final poll segment. Counting of votes is due to be taken up on May 2.

Besides Sonia Gandhi, the letter has been sent to Chief Ministers Uddhav Thackeray(Maharashtra-Shiv Sena), Hemant Soren(Jharkhand-JMM), Arvind Kejriwal(Delh-AAP), Naveen Patnaik(Odisha-BJD) and Jagan Reddy(Andhra Pradesh--YSR Congress), NCP's Sharad Pawar, DMK's MK Stalin, Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, NC’s Farooq Abdullah, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti and CPI(ML)’s Dipankar Bhattacharya.

'I am writing this letter to you, and to several leaders of non-BJP parties, to convey my serious concerns over a series of assaults by the BJP and its government at the Centre on democracy and constitutional federalism in India,' Banerjee said.

The move by the fiery leader quickly got the backing of Mehbooba Mufti.

Mufti said it is imperative for the opposition parties in the country to unite in order to protect democracy and its cherished values.

The president of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) said the need of the hour is to put up a collective fight against the “onslaught”.

“Agree with @MamataOfficial di that in order to protect our democracy & its cherished values it is imperative for the opposition parties to unite,” the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir wrote on Twitter.

In her letter, Banerjee referred to the passage of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill by Parliament, saying it is an 'extremely grave' development.

'With this law, the BJP government at the Centre has snatched away practically all the powers of the democratically elected government of Delhi, and vested them in the hands of the Lt Governor, a nominee of the Centre. The Lt Governor has been made the undeclared Viceroy of Delhi, acting as a proxy for the home minister and the prime minister,' she said.

She also claimed that despite losing to the AAP in both 2014 and 2019, the BJP was 'unwilling' to accept the people's mandate.

'The BJP has chosen to govern Delhi by making the chief minister subservient to the Lt Governor. The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act is a direct attack on the federal structure of the Indian Republic, as enshrined in the Constitution. It also makes a mockery of the letter and spirit of democracy since it disempowers the people of the national capital.

'You will also agree that what the BJP has done in Delhi is not an exception, but has increasingly become a rule,' she said.

She also alleged that the BJP government has been 'brazenly and vindictively misusing' the CBI, ED and other institutions against leaders and functionaries of non-BJP parties for its own partisan political ends.

Citing the examples of both West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, where Assembly elections are now underway, she accused the government of 'unleashing' the ED to conduct raids on functionaries of the TMC and the DMK.

'Predictably, these institutions target only non-BJP leaders, and never those belonging to the BJP,' she alleged.

The chief minister also accused the Centre of 'deliberately' withholding transfer of funds to state governments, especially those ruled by non-BJP partie, so that they face problems in implementing their development and welfare schemes to benefit common people.

Banerjee also said the move by the Centre of disbanding the National Development Council, Inter-State Council and the Planning Commission, and replacing it with NITI Aayog, is to 'deactivate' every single platform where state governments used to traditionally place their legitimate demands, needs, concerns and views before the central government.

'The Modi government's policy of reckless and wholesale privatisation of the nation's assets is also an attack on democracy because these assets belong to the people of India,' she added.

Banerjee also highlighted how there is a 'clear pattern' and purpose behind these developments and alleged that the BJP wants to make it impossible for non-BJP parties to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms.

'It wants to dilute the powers of state governments and downgrade them to mere municipalities. In short, it wants to establish a one-party authoritarian rule in India,' she alleged.

'Overall, the Centre-state relations, and also relations between the ruling party at the Centre and opposition parties, have never been as bad in the history of independent India as they are now, and the blame for this rests squarely with the prime minister's authoritarian conduct.' she claimed.PTI ASG KR SSB GSN GSN GSN