'Tell me, one BJP policy that Mamata has opposed and is fighting tooth and nail?'
Be it Article 370, instant triple talaq, be it CAA/NRC/NPR, be it notebandi, FDI, she has aligned with the BJP.'
"RSS/BJP people have been working for the last 20 years in Bengal under the umbrella of the TMC and now, one by one, these alleged TMC leaders are going back to the mother ship," Mohammed Salim, Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member and the Lok Sabha member from Raiganj in West Bengal, tells Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com in part two of a multi-part freewheeling interview.
Why is it that we don't see Congress or Left rallies in Bengal? The elections are less than two months away. The BJP has begun its propaganda juggernaut, Mamata has been holding rallies as well.
I'm sorry to say that is because the media does not cover our rallies. For the last three months, during the lockdown period, the Left has been holding mega rallies, far larger than the BJP ones, in rural Bengal, in towns, in districts. That is why there is a groundswell of support for the Left now.
You see, we don't take reporters in air-conditioned buses to cover our rallies.
If the media covers the BJP and Centre like the way they should be covered, they will be slapped with tax raids, Enforcement Directorate summons, like what happened to Newsclick. Or you will be termed anti-national and hounded. Nobody will give you interviews.
After 10 years, the CPI-M got a mention in the first page of the Telegraph (the Kolkata daily newspaper) and only because of Manik Sarkar's rally. Obviously, because he is the ex-chief minister of Tripura.
Now, look at this. I had a rally at Arambagh that day, a huge rally. The Times of India carried a report, 'Ex-Tripura CM Manik Sarkar addresses rally in Burdwan' on the front page. Then another report alongside, saying, 'Huge BJP rally at Baroipur'.
But it was just an ordinary rally, not even by Nadda (BHaratiya Janata Party President Jagat Prakasg Nadda) or Shah (Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah). Yet it got coverage (laughs uproariously).
Sorry, but that is the journalism of the day.
What was the thought behind aligning with the Congress despite the disaster of 2016?
Today it is a fight to save Bengal, oust the Trinamool Congress and at the same time prevent the BJP from bidding for power.
In 2019, there was an all-India Modi wave after Balakot and Pulwama and the BJP's high-octave campaign, where numerous promises were made. So votes went to the BJP because people were disgusted with the Trinamool.
Now, what is happening is that people who voted for the BJP are seeing corrupt, tolabaaj (extortionist), chit-fund tainted leaders of the other party on stage with Shah or Nadda instead of being in jail. People now feel hoodwinked.
The BJP in Bengal is nothing but TMC 2.0.
The anti-incumbency factor has already set in for the TMC.
For the BJP, there is anti-incumbency sentiment in terms of the farmers' protests, fall in gross domestic product, the horrific migrant labourers mismanagement during Covid, unemployment etc.
The Left knows Bengal very well. The Left, Congress and the Indian Secular Front bidding for power is to ensure the state is not sold at the Trinamool's market or the BJP's mela. All are welcome to join us.
How many seats do you give your alliance?
No, I can't say that. I am not Amit Shah (laughs). We will decide on seat sharing with the Congress this week and on February 28, we will have a mega rally at the Brigade Ground where we will introduce those who will be contesting the elections, to the people.
The Bengal election is probably the most high-stake election after Uttar Pradesh for all the parties involved.
The BJP remains your biggest opponent. Why did you not consider tying up with the TMC to defeat a common 'enemy'?
I agree with the first part of your statement, but not the second.
Do you really think the BJP is the TMC's opponent? You may think so, but I don't. And in public (life), we call them opponent, not enemy.
Do you know that Mamata Banerjee said in an interview to the BBC that the BJP was her natural ally? Tell me, one BJP policy that Mamata has opposed and is fighting tooth and nail? Just one.
The Citizenship Amendment Act/National Register of Citizens.
That's pure gossip. When whole of Bengal was saying 'No' to Modi, Mamata Banerjee organised some street show with some actors and actresses (against CAA/NRC). But in Parliament, they did not fight doggedly against CAA/NRC, apart from (TMC MP) Mahua Moitra's speech.
When Modi came to Bengal, the people were so upset with him, that he couldn't drive from the airport to the Raj Bhavan. He took a helicopter.
Mamata went and surreptitiously met him. There was no agenda, no politics, apparently. But from that time onwards, she agreed to the National Population Register.
She went to identify land for detention camps and met Amit Shah in Bhubaneshwar and promised to support him on the issue.
Be it Article 370, instant triple talaq, be it CAA/NRC/NPR, be it notebandi, FDI, she has aligned with the BJP.
The RSS grew in Bengal in the last 10 years under the aegis of the TMC.
Mukul Roy or Suvendu Adhikari, (both formerly with TMC and now with the BJP), do you think they were from TMC?
RSS/BJP people have been working for the last 20 years in Bengal under the umbrella of the TMC and now, one by one, these alleged TMC leaders are going back to the mother ship.
As you rightly pointed out, yes, we want to stop the BJP from diving into Bengal politics.
Trinamool is the diving board. If you want to make the BJP nose dive to their end, you have to remove the diving board from under their feet