New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and got the backing of BJP rebels Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie to her efforts to forge a broad coalition of forces for one-to-one fight with the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
While Kejriwal, who met Banerjee for about half-an-hour, did not speak to the media, the BJP rebels expressed their support for her endeavours.
Former union minister Yashwant Sinha met Banerjee along with BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha and said they came to meet her as there was a need to save the country. “We worked together for a long time in the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government and you are all familiar with her personality,” he said.
“The role she has played in this direction is admirable. We came to thank her and she should continue discharging the role strongly in the future. She has our full support and cooperation,” Yashwant Sinha said.
Shatrughan Sinha said Banerjee was a mass leader connected to the grassroots.
“We are with her in her struggle for the country. Nation is bigger than the party. All this work is not anti-party but pro-nation. We have come to give her support for the sake of the country,” he said.
Banerjee, who arrived in Delhi on Monday, had met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and MPs of BJP’s ally Shiv Sena on Tuesday. She had also met Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter K. Kavitha and Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti besides MPs from Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and DMK.
Shourie hailed Banerjee’s pitch for one-to-one contest with the BJP in 2019 elections.
“If this is one-to-one formula is adopted, then the opposition parties start with 69 percent of the votes. Because even at the height of his popularity, Modi got only 31 percent of the votes,” he said.
Supporting Banerjee, he said that coordination in each state should be left to the wisdom of the dominant person. “He should distribute tickets in such a way that everybody can come together in that particular region,” Shourie said.
Answering a question on Congress, he hoped that the principal opposition party “will see the good sense for everybody to be together”.
“Because if this momentum (of BJP’s victories) is not broken, there will be no Congress and nobody even among them personally in the second round,” Shourie said.
Citing the instance of Bihar where Congress was part of coalition that defeated the BJP, he said the party did not take Banerjee’s offer for an alliance in Tripura and the result was there for all to see. He also referred to Assam where Congress did not go for alliance.
“So they should reflect on these things. There are mature people there. They should reflect,” he said.
Targeting the government, Shourie said Modi has become “very tired now” and has lost the grip on the government.
“It seems he is strong, but actually he is busy only with ceremonial stuff. And the government is paralysed. He is, as Mr Advani said, a very good event manager but he, it is turning out, is only an event manager. He is announcing schemes but not seeing what is happening to schemes. And the people are now seeing that his pronouncements and the results are very different,” he said.
Referring to the problems of farmers in Maharashtra, Shourie said the distance between Modi’s “propaganda and the ability to manage the media and the reality is too visible to people”.
He also alleged that real control of the government and of the party was slipping from Modi’s hands into BJP chief Amit Shah’s hands. “This is a very big change in the last four months and the country will pay for this,” he said.
Shourie called upon the media not only to look at opposition parties as alternative to Modi but also to the movements such as the one by farmers in Maharashtra.
He said youth leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani had emerged in Gujarat and Kanhaiya Kumar had emerged at JNU. “Parties should also connect with them,” he added.
Answering a question about who will lead the front against Modi, he said there was no need to think about it now and it was sufficient for people to work in their areas for the present.
He also said that opposition parties should highlight the report of the standing committee of defence in which army has stated that various efforts taken for modernisation have “received a little setback”.
Shourie accused Modi of managing headlines through the media.