The Opposition move of forming a grand alliance seemed to have been given momentum by none other than the indomitable Didi of Trinamool Congress. The Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi has met all sorts of political leaders from all political parties, including the BJP, in her attempt to whip up sentiments on the fate of lakhs of people in assam who have been deregistered under the NRC’s sorting of Indians and others. The issue has given the feisty Mamata a political hot potato to go hammer and tongs at the ruling BJP accusing them of dividing the nation over every issue. With general elections just a few months away, political parties are huddling to stop the BJP from coming to power again. The Trinamool supremo recently gave a call for uniting all Opposition parties to give the BJP a tough fight in the 2019 general elections. Mamata will hold a mega rally of Opposition parties in Kolkata on January 19 to kick off the Opposition campaign.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday sought to dismiss talk of her being a Prime Ministerial candidate, saying her priority was the ousting of the BJP government at the Centre for which the opposition should come together.
“I am nobody. I am a very simple worker. Let me just continue as a commoner. I want that this government must go; this BJP government. They are doing maximum political vendetta and atrocities with the people. So we want that everybody should be united. Let us work together, don’t think of Prime Ministerial candidate. Think of the country,” she told the media in Parliament House.
Banerjee, who has upped the ante on the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, said that 40 lakh people whose names were missing from the list were the family members of this country. “They belong to various states. They are our family members. They should not tell people to go out.”
Asked about BJP President Amit Shah’s statement that he would be going to West Bengal to address a rally on August 11, she said: “Let him go. Let him go all 365 days. Bengal is for everybody. Bengal welcomes everybody. It is their party problem.”
In reply to a question on Shah’s comment about infiltrators and her remarks about a bloodbath, the Trinamool Congress chief said: “What I am saying is that what the BJP is doing will create bloodbath. They are playing with fire.”
Asked about her meetings with various political parties including BJP leader L.K. Advani, she said: “I have been a Member of Parliament for seven times. I have maintained best of relations with all. And it is a kind of courtesy meeting.”
Banerjee, who came to the Parliament House complex, met Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav, AIADMK leader M. Thambidurai, Kerala Congress-Mani leader Jose K. Mani and suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad.
The AIADMK is friendly with the Modi government. Banerjee, who visited the Central Hall of Parliament, also met TDP MPs.
Former Law Minister and Congress leader Ashwani Kumar also met Banerjee.
Banerjee met Advani, who is a member of the BJP’s Margdarshak Mandal and has been virtually sidelined in the party’s affairs.
Banerjee arrived in Delhi on Monday and met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday. She also met dissident BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha and former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Ram Jethmalani.
The Trinamool Congress leader is in Delhi to personally invite opposition leaders for her January 19 mega rally in Kolkata.
The Kolkata rally is expected to help Banerjee emerge as the pivot of opposition efforts to dislodge the Narendra Modi government.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha witnessed vociferous protests by Trinamool Congress (TMC) members over the Assam NRC issue, forcing house Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the house for the day.
Due to disruptions, Home Minister Rajnath Singh could not make a statement and was forced to table it instead whereas BJP President Amit Shah could not conclude his speech that he started on Tuesday.
As the upper house of Parliament reassembled at 2 p.m., Naidu asked Shah to resume his speech related to the discussion on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam that he could not complete due to pandemonium on Tuesday.
At this, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sukhendu Shekhar Roy raised a point of order and said that as per the rules of conduct of the upper house, a member cannot speak twice on the same issue if he fails to complete his speech in the first instance.
But his point was rejected by the Chairman.
Naidu said that he had given Shah permission to complete his speech and asked him to continue.
As the point of order was rejected, the TMC members trooped near the Chairman’s podium and started raising slogans, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come to the house and make a statement on the issue.
Naidu urged the TMC members to go back to their seats and allow Shah to continue, but the Trinamool members did not relent.
“It seems a conspiracy… not letting the house function by creating a controversy… You are doing something which is not acceptable in parliamentary system,” Naidu said.
As they continued with their protest and sloganeering, Naidu appealed to Roy to ask his party members to return to their seats.
“You create disorder and you raise point of order… there must be some patience to hear the reply,” he said.
“Are we at the mercy of one party?… this is unbecoming of Parliament members,” Naidu said as he requested the agitating MPs to go back to their seats.
Amid the din, Shah rose from his seat but couldn’t continue with his speech. He requested the Chair amid the din to go ahead with the Home Minister’s reply and sat down.
On Tuesday, Shah’s remarks that the earlier governments did not have the courage to implement the Assam Accord signed in 1985 had provoked the opposition to protest.
Naidu then called Rajnath Singh to give his reply and asked the members to restore order. However, as the sloganeering continued, the Home Minister tabled his reply amid the din.
As Naidu’s appeals went unheeded by agitating TMC members, he said: “This seems to be a system that you spoke, you had your say and now (you) come and disturb the proceedings. You don’t want to hear the reply.”
“As some of the members are not willing to hear the Home Minister and as they are not ready to relent, I am adjourning the house for the day,” Naidu said before adjourning the upper house.
Earlier, when the house met for the day, it was adjourned till noon as the Congress members stood up to register their protest against Shah’s remarks.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma asked Chairman Naidu to expunge Shah’s comments wherein he said “you did not have the courage, but we have it to implement the NRC”.
Naidu said that he would look into the issue and expunge any remarks found uncalled for.
The opposition members objected. Amid the noise, Naidu adjourned the house till noon.
The BJP and the TMC are at loggerheads over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
Shah had claimed that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had the courage to do what the Congress lacked on identifying foreigners. (IANS)