“People have voted for change and against the CPI(M)…”

Asserting on Wednesday that the landslide victory of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal's civic elections is a “clear message” to the Left Front government to step down, party chief Mamata Banerjee reiterated her demand for early Assembly elections, due in 2011.

Addressing journalists at her Kalighat residence here, Ms. Banerjee claimed that this victory is “100 times better than the party's results in Lok Sabha elections in 2009” and dedicated it to the State's “maa, mati and manush [mother, earth and people]” for their support and blessings.

Calling the triumph “historic and revolutionary,” she said: “People have voted for change and against the Communist Party of India (Marxist). So people are the biggest winners and the CPI(M) is the biggest loser, since goons and guns employed by the latter could not deter people this time from bringing about the much-needed change.”

Asked if she thought the government should step down in the wake of the debacle, Ms. Banerjee said: “Every political party should accept the people's verdict. Post its defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(M) continued terrorising people through the Assembly by-elections and the civic elections in the hope of regaining lost ground. But it failed miserably in all attempts. Now, it is up to the great leaders to decide.”

Emphasising that the Constitution permits early Assembly elections in a State even without imposing President's rule, she pointed out that in a federal structure, the Centre could advance polls in a State if it felt that the State government was not functioning properly.

Even though Ms. Banerjee, once more, indirectly blamed the Pradesh Congress for jeopardising the alliance with her party, she upheld her support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, and even expressed hope of a “grand and better alliance” in the State in future.

“Our party did not break up the alliance. I trust the Congress in the UPA government and respect the Prime Minister. We will maintain our relationship since it is a public commitment… Options [for future alliance] are open. I want a grand and better alliance and if our UPA friends want the same, I will be very happy,” she said.

Ms. Banerjee said that of the 81 municipalities across the State, her party would rule in 51, and added that this win would help her party undertake development work.