"Why should only the Trinmool Congress take the responsibility to curb the growth of Narendra Modi? Has the Congress been doing so? Is the Congress successful in Gujarat to control the rise of Modi?" asked an angry Sultan Ahmed, the newly-appointed spokesperson of the Trinmool Congress and minister of state of tourism in the United Progressive Alliance, on his last day in the office.
Ahmed, known as the 'Muslim face' of the Trinmool Congress in West Bengal was responding to a question that how his party will justify its stand if it doesn't go with the secular forces to fight the possible emergence of Modi in national politics. Ahmed was talking to select media persons on Thursday in his office even as he and his five ministerial colleagues are all set to leave office on Friday at around 1 pm.
Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav has said on Wednesday, while hinting at his party's support to the United Progressive Alliance government, that his party "cannot forget the Gujarat riots and how the state sponsored them. We have seen that face of the Bharatiya Janata Party. So we have to think twice before taking a step lest it helps such forces in coming to power."
Ahmed dismisses the central theme of Yadav's argument. He said, "Mamata is a secular leader. We will not allow the BJP to win one seat from West Bengal."
He said, "Why should the Trinmool Congress help Modi to become prime minister when we are hoping that our leader Mamata Banerjee becomes PM?"
While articulating the nuances of Banerjee's stand on secular politics and on her stance towards the National Democratic Alliance where Modi may be one of the leaders of the BJP, Ahmed said, "The talk of Mamata going with NDA or helping communal forces is merely Congress's propaganda."
He said, "I can only say that in West Bengal we will not allow the BJP to win any seat in the Lok Sabha election. We will prevent them in our state. Is the Congress doing so in Gujarat?"
Taking the argument further, he said, "How can you argue that if Mamata Banerjee refuses to join secular forces led by the Congress against Modi, then Muslims won't vote for the Trinmool Congress? In that case Nitish Kumar, who is having an alliance with the BJP, should lose all seats."
Ahmed also took dig at the Left parties 'secular stand'. He said, "In the last three years we have been seeing daily in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, how the Left parties and the BJP are coordinating their strategies."
While emphasising that more than anything else price rise will be the issue, he said, "Any voter when he goes to polling booth doesn't think about caste or religion, he thinks about his daily needs. (woh apne pet ki sochta hai)"
He said that in his party's three-hour long meeting on September 18, where the decision to snap ties with the UPA was taken, Banerjee read out her SMS message to Congress President Sonia Gandhi sent on September 14 at 7.02 am. Mamata had said in the SMS that she is opposed to the hike in diesel price and had said that she is perturbed by the recent decisions of the government.
Ahmed says in coming year the Trinmool Congress will take on the Congress in West Bengal for not giving it any assistance in spite an alliance for the last 18 months in the state. He alleged that the Congress is not giving any economic package to West Bengal, 'to keep a check on Banerjee's rise'. He asked how do you explain the Rs 80,000 crore package to Uttar Pradesh?
He lashed out at the UPA government's favourable treatment to the Samajwadi Party and hostile treatment to the Trinmool Congress.
He said, "We could see that things changed after the Congress lost badly in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress had big plans of winning UP and then doing certain things at the Centre. But when UP got out of bounds they found that Mamata's usefulness is less and Samajwadi Party's is more. The Congress uses its allies for its own advantage. Also now the Congress wants to ensure that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, their top leaders, win from their constituencies in UP. So they gave huge economic aid to Akhilesh Yadav in just three days. We were having a pre-poll alliance with the Congress but we are treated differently. The Congress fought against the Samajwadi Party but still they are treated so well. Why? Our alliance is more than three years old but we are treated badly."
Ahmed said, "When Mamata showed us the SMS sent to Sonia Gandhi and said Sonia didn't care to reply, we took the clue. We found it humiliating. Some of us who were in two minds to leave the UPA changed our minds and supported Mamata's stand."