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Didi eyes 10 states for polls

Durgapur, Feb. 15: Mamata Banerjee today named 10 states where the Trinamul Congress would contest elections in the future, laying down her plans of extending her reach outside Bengal but simultaneously asserting that the state would always be her focus.

The chief minister said she would take to Delhi the “fight” she began in Bengal. “It is my challenge, my challenge, my challenge,” she thundered at a Trinamul workers’ meeting in Durgapur.

At her Brigade rally on January 30, Mamata had given the call to go to Delhi to build India, publicly speaking about her national ambitions, but today’s speech was more specific.

“We will contest elections in the future in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and, perhaps, Delhi too,” the chief minister said at today’s programme. “The ‘all India’ in the All India Trinamul Congress will be a reality now.”

To pursue her national aspirations, Mamata has fixed an appointment with Anna Hazare in Delhi next week. Today, she said she would visit Assam and Tripura later this month.

“I will take the fight began by Trinamul in Bengal to Delhi, to Parliament. I will restore Bengal to its deserved glory. The whole nation looks to us for leadership these days,” the chief minister said.

She urged voters to give her all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal and said she would “take care” of Trinamul’s strength in other states. “Remember, the stronger you make Trinamul in Bengal, the stronger we will be elsewhere.

“Because you give me strength here, I can think of those outside Bengal as well. But do not worry, I am not going to leave you. I will never give up on Bengal,” Mamata added.

Referring to Mamata’s efforts to form a federal front of regional parties, Trinamul sources said she was not worried about the Left’s attempts to stitch together a third front. According to the sources, Mamata was “convinced” that Trinamul would play a key role after the Lok Sabha elections.

The chief minister iterated her disapproval of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, a theme she had touched upon at the Brigade rally.

Referring to Modi’s “chat over tea” programme, Mamata said today: “I believe in going to tea stalls and meeting people round the year. I believe in working for them every day. Those who sell tea as a populist gimmick before elections must not be trusted. We will have to defeat them in the elections for the sake of the people.”

Making it clear that Trinamul was prepared to fight the Lok Sabha elections alone, the chief minister said: “Not a single seat can be left for the CPM, Congress and the BJP in this state.”

The other speakers at the programme — Mukul Roy, Partha Chatterjee, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Dola Sen, Subhendu Adhikari, Abhishek Banerjee and Subrata Bakshi — urged the people to make Mamata the Prime Minister, but she did not broach the topic.