Kolkata: Aspiring to become a dominant national player in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday renewed her call for a “united Opposition” under one umbrella shunning “self-interest” to remove the BJP from power at the Centre after three years.
The West Bengal chief minister, who had given a similar call under the banner of “United India” in 2019, which however failed miserably, also vowed to expand her party in other states with its Assembly poll-winning slogan “Khela Hob”" till the BJP is driven out from the country. She said “Khela Hobe” Diwas, which she announced earlier, would be celebrated on August 16 every year.
Addressing a virtual rally on the occasion of the TMC’s Shahid Diwas, observed annually, from her Kalighat residence, Ms Banerjee said: “I do not know what will happen in 2024. But we have to start our planning and work from now. We need to speak up and stand united now. We have to forget our self-interest. Our sole interests should be to save the country and its people, states and federal structure.”
She elaborated: “The way Bengal fought against the BJP, I urge all the Opposition leaders and other states to convince their parties to work together to build a front. What is the point if a doctor comes after a patient’s death? If he comes early, a scope to cure the patient may exist. Still, time is there. The more days you will waste, the more time will be lost.”
To stich the Opposition parties together, Ms Banerjee said she wanted to meet key leaders, including NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Congress’ P. Chidambaram, during her coming three-day Delhi visit from July 27.
“All come to Parliament when it is in session. I also used to visit it, but I could not do it for the last two years. So, I want to meet key Opposition leaders there. I can attend a meeting if called by Sharadji and Chidambaramji for talks about where the country is heading to,” she added.
After the Covid-19 pandemic is over, the TMC chief said she would invite all top Opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to a grand rally at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata during the winter.
Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Pegasus snooping scandal, Ms Banerjee alleged his government wanted to turn the country into a “surveillance state instead of a democratic state”.
In an explosive claim, she complained that her mobile phone was also tapped like her MP nephew Abhishek Banerjee and their party’s election strategist Prashant Kishor as she remains in touch with them.
“I cannot talk to the Delhi and Andhra Pradesh CMs, Chidambaramji and many other leaders because my phone is tapped. Even some Union ministers of the BJP were also targeted by Pegasus, which was used to capture the Election Commission during the last Assembly polls here. I appeal to the Supreme Court judges to take suo moto cognisance of the crime and order a probe under their monitoring,” she said.
To prevent snooping, Ms Banerjee later showed that she has pasted a tape on the camera on the back of her cellphone.