New Delhi, Aug. 18: For Mamata Banerjee, the no-trust motion in the Lok Sabha was all about “able and stable” Atal Bihari Vajpayee and brickbats for the Bengal government.
“I have great respect for Atalji. His government has shown the country that coalitions can work” was the Trinamul Congress chief’s refrain.
The Prime Minister’s efforts at befriending Mamata paid off handsomely when she spoke against the Congress-sponsored motion. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee has shown his side is able and stable,” she said. Pointing to the Opposition benches, she said: “They cannot even pick and choose a leader.”
Mamata, who is still angling for a Union cabinet berth, went out of her way to vouch loyalty to the NDA government. Her defence of the government and its leader Vajpayee, however, was less about the Centre’s performance and more about the Left Front government’s “misrule” in her home state.
Pouncing on the Left for raising last year’s Gujarat riots, she alleged: “Minorities are being killed in Bengal.”
Mamata appeared not to spare a thought for the 25-odd years of a coalition government’s success while praising Vajpayee’s stewardship of his disparate group. “We have every confidence in Vajpayee. Before his government came, we had elections every year. He has shown coalitions can work,” she said.
In waxing eloquent in her praise for Vajpayee, she showed her gratitude to the Prime Minister, who stood by her even when the rest of the BJP, including deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, advised caution against her bullying and tantrums.
“People will remember Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the road revolution,” Mamata said, referring to the central project to connect rural India by roads.
The Opposition immediately asked her what she meant by “road revolution”. Pat came the reply: “I can give you the name of every road that has been constructed in Bengal.”
Amid Opposition titters, Mamata went on to list Vajpayee’s other “achievements”. “The Prime Minister also did a lot to improve the situation in Orissa after the supercyclone. He has also done his best to help drought-affected Andhra Pradesh.”
“I want to congratulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee for improving the foreign exchange reserves in the country and the GDP rate,” Mamata added.
But she acknowledged that “it is not possible for him to please everyone”.
Mamata rebuked the Opposition for sending the “wrong signal” to the “enemy country” by announcing its no-confidence move a day before Independence Day. “Jo enemy country hain woh watch karta hain (The enemy country is watching us). There is a time for everything and it was not proper to announce a decision to bring a no-confidence motion against the Centre a day before August 15.”
“They (the Opposition) have planned the motion with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections,” Mamata added.