The Telegraph
Friday , March 21 , 2014
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Didi’s BJP stress bares four-cornered uncertainty
Party trying to divide state: CM

Dinesh Trivedi, Trinamul’s Barrackpore MP seeking re-election from the seat, displayed his musical skills on Thursday, playing the harmonium at the Shyamsundar temple in Khardah. Trivedi, a trained sitar player and singer, offered puja at the temple and played the harmonium for 10 minutes. “I was very close to Ustad Vilayat Khan. I took talim in sitar from Kalyani Roy, who was Khan Saheb’s disciple. I cannot say I am a great singer but I enjoy singing classical-based songs, thumri and ghazal. Music has been a constant companion since my schooldays,” the former railway minister said. Picture by Bhabatosh Chakraborty

Murshidabad, March 20: Mamata Banerjee today took care to explain the “threat” posed by the BJP, the focus on the party at a Trinamul workers’ meeting in Murshidabad betraying her apprehensions about the possible impact of the Narendra Modi factor in the four-cornered Lok Sabha poll battle.

“I am against the BJP. The BJP is communal. They want to divide Bengal,” the chief minister said at the Astabal grounds near Hazarduari.

The Trinamul chief also took apart the BJP for alleged corruption and its apparent preference for smaller states. The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha has said it will support the BJP in the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar seats in the hope that its statehood demand will be addressed if the NDA comes to power.

“We saw what happened in the Lok Sabha during the (passage of the) Telangana Bill. The Congress, BJP and the CPM had formed a syndicate. On the issue of corruption, the BJP and the Congress never attack each other. When in power, the Congress does not probe corruption cases during NDA rule and vice-versa,” Mamata said.

The gathering had been billed as a workers’ meeting but the 20,000-plus turnout gave it the look and feel of a public meeting. Mamata used the opportunity to attack the BJP, which till now has been a marginal force in Bengal with a vote share of around 6 per cent.

But the equations can change this time as the BJP is expected to fare better because of the nationwide wave in favour of Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Although it cannot be predicted if the BJP will eat into Trinamul’s vote share, the uncertainty over how Modi’s party will fare in Bengal, which will witness a four-cornered Lok Sabha poll fight for the first time, has become a topic of discussion in Trinamul circles.

Trinamul sources said the party could face a tough battle. Mamata’s speech today, the sources said, was aimed at a wider audience, not merely the gathering in Murshidabad.

“The equations can change in some seats because of the four-cornered fight. Tie-ups had worked in our favour in the past,” a Trinamul leader said.

During her 50-minute speech, Mamata explained to party workers why they should target the BJP while campaigning.

The Trinamul sources said the Jangipur bypoll in 2012 must have been playing on the chief minister’s mind as she was in Murshidabad. The BJP had bagged over 10 per cent votes in the bypoll, around 6 per cent more than what it had got in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

The impact of the rise in the vote share of the BJP and some identity-based parties brought down the Congress’s victory margin to 2,536 votes from 128,000 in 2009.

Mamata today categorically said she had nothing to do with the BJP, the comments assuming significance when seen in the context of Muslims making up 28 per cent of Bengal’s voters. The majority of these voters had played a key role in bringing Trinamul to power in the 2011 Assembly polls.

“I was a part of the NDA and I don’t deny it. It was because of Vajpayeeji. We had felt that the presence of Vajpayeeji would ensure nothing would be done to hurt the interests of the minorities. As soon as we realised the government was not sincere about the issue of the minorities, we quit,” she said.

After distancing herself from the BJP, Mamata launched an attack on the Modi government, which she was scheduled to take on in Ahmedabad today as part of her national plans.

But following the setback in Delhi because of Anna Hazare’s decision to skip the Ramlila Maidan rally last week, the Gujarat trip was deferred.

She used the podium in Murshidabad, which has a minority population of over 70 per cent, to launch an attack on Modi and drill holes into his Gujarat model of development.

“The child mortality rate in Gujarat is higher than that in Bengal,” Mamata said.