‘A lone fight against all parties and malicious campaign’

Admitting that the Howrah Lok Sabha election was tough, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday described the result as the dawn of a new era as this poll was fought by the party on its own.

“This poll was like no other” she told journalists at the Secretariat here, pointing out that people had come out to vote for the TMC braving the scorching sun and despite the fact they might have to do so again within six months if parliamentary elections were announced.

Trinamool retained the seat, which fell vacant following the death of Ambica Banerjee. “This was our lone fight… against the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Congress and two candidates supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party; add to that the malicious campaign unleashed on TMC… we fought single-handedly against all,” she remarked.

Quoting a well known Tagore composition “Jodi tore dak shune keu naa ashe tobey ekla cholo re (If none heed your call... then tread a solitary path) ... she said the main mantra of this by-election was ekla cholo rey,” reiterating that it was not comparable to any other poll.

Referring to a three per cent drop in the TMC vote share, Ms. Banerjee said a solitary fight could not be compared with the numbers thrown up during a show put up by an alliance, and that too in a by-election. “Last time there was 77 per cent polling; this time it was 67 per cent, despite that we won by 27,000 votes.”

Referring to losses suffered by her party in some segments, she admitted that certain pockets were dominated by some parties. “We fought against all odds… the message is go forth on you own.

Mentioning about the Jangipur by-elections, which were held after the seat was vacated by Pranab Mukherjee to contest the presidential poll, she said her party had not fielded any candidate against the Congress’ Abhijeet Mukherjee although the alliance had snapped. “They [Congress] would have been wiped out in Jangipur [had the TMC been around],” Ms. Banerjee said, noting that despite this gesture the Congress had put up a candidate in Howrah.

"Local parties will do well if they get together"

Trinamool Congress party chief Mamata Banerjee feels that regional parties will do well in the next parliamentary polls if they get together. She, however, evaded a direct reply to queries on whether she was prepared to lead such a coalition saying that she had no interest in chair or power.

While pointing out that the Congress needed the Trinamool Congress and not the other way around, she ignited speculation that all options were being left open, by saying that some people felt that there were no permanent enemies in politics.

Fielding queries on the ensuing parliamentary polls scheduled for 2014, she told reporters that regional parties would do well if they get together. To a question whether she could become the leader of a non-Bharatiya Janata Party, non-Congress bloc, Ms. Banerjee dodged a direct answer saying: “I do not want any chair. I am ready to be there as a worker, I do not care for power or chair.”

‘No political astrologer’

To a question on the prospects of a victorious third front at the next parliamentary elections, she quipped, “I am no political astrologer.”

Asked whether the party’s victory at the Howrah bypolls where it fought alone, carried some message, she said: “They [Congress] need us…. we had left the United Progressive Alliance –II in the interest of the people.”

Ms. Banerjee criticised the Congress-led government at the Centre for increasing prices of coal, fertilizer and other commodities, which had affected the people.