‘It belittles me for opposing FDI, Lokpal Bill'

In an escalation of the tussle between the allies in West Bengal, Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday that the door was open for the Congress to quit. “I have fought a lone battle all my life, and I am capable of doing so even now.”

Ms. Banerjee said the Congress was trying to belittle her because of her opposition to the Centre's move to permit foreign investment in the retail sector, to fuel price increase and more recently to the Lokpal Bill. “If the Congress wants to leave, the door is open.”

She launched a tirade against the Centre, saying she was facing harassment since the Trinamool protested repeatedly on these issues, apart from the move to increase coal prices.

To back her claim of “total interference in the federal structure,” she cited the case of the Lokpal Bill, in which, she said, the Lokayukta clause was included forcibly.

Addressing the press here soon after the arrest of Tilok Chowdhury, the main accused in the case of alleged assault on the principal of a college at Raiganj by Trinamool supporters, she said a small incident was being blown out of proportion by the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which, she said, seemed to have teamed up.

Ms. Banerjee said that while the youth (she described them as young ones) had committed some errors, they should be given a chance to rectify their mistakes. “The college authorities did not act in an impartial manner, either,” she said. The media ignored the development for over four days (when matters were reaching the flashpoint) and stepped in only to highlight the “assault.”

She said that a trap was laid to ensnare her partymen. Since they walked into it, they would have to face arrest. (Tilok Chowdhury, who was arrested after he surrendered, has since been released on bail).

Piqued at the mocking references to poriborton (change) that the Trinamool had promised to bring about in the State, Ms. Banerjee said those trying to ridicule her did not keep count of the many party supporters who had been killed so far this year.

“Do they have any idea of what odds I am working against — I am slogging like a demon in a system riddled with a faulty mechanism and infiltrated by cadres of the CPI(M). Finances are in a mess, ad hoc appointments had been made, there is no master roll of employees, no audit of funds utilisation in certain departments for over seven years. I need no lessons from the Congress–CPI(M) duo… I had a solo show at Singur, at Nandigram, and all my life I have fought a lone battle. I am capable of continuing that …,” she said.