Trashing pre-poll surveys putting Narendra Modi ahead in the prime ministerial race, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said the idea of a prime ministerial candidate is “fictional” as it is not backed by Constitution.
“The ‘prime ministerial candidate’ is a fictional idea. There is no such thing in the Constitution,” she said, adding that in a parliamentary democracy, the people elect MPs who then select the PM.
In an exclusive interview to PTI, the West Bengal Chief Minister said, “Let them get a majority first. To those who are saying Namo, Namo, we are saying No-No, No-No,” she said, targeting Mr. Modi who last Friday went hammer and tongs against Ms. Banerjee in an election rally near Siliguri.
She expressed confidence that a federal front will form the next government because “people of India are ‘bahut’ (very) wise.”
The federal front, she said, comprises political parties which are keen to fight corruption, dynasty rule and communalism, which both Congress and BJP have failed to do.
“Congress has lost all credibility, accountability and morality to rule. We cannot do away with a corrupt government and bring a party whose face symbolises communal rioting,” she said.
“On the counting day, you will see even if you add up the Congress and BJP seats, it will be below 273. This is the political reality,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Alleging that Congress and BJP have “formed a syndicate to sell India”, she said, “Congress is anti-people. They are increasing the prices of essential commodities -- from fuel to fertilisers.”
Ms. Banerjee, who had earlier said BJP is not the alternative to Congress and Congress is not the alternative to BJP, now said “BJP and Congress are the same”.
Hitting out at Narendra Modi without naming him, Ms. Banerjee said, “The BJP has a person with blood of innocents killed in riots on his hands hoping to be the PM”.
Asked if TMC will support a BJP-led government minus Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, Banerjee said, “There are too many ifs and buts in your question. Politics is not about ifs and buts. I have told you I am hopeful about the Federal Front.”
BJP’s ideology is to divide people on religious lines, she alleged, saying “we do not have to learn about Hinduism from BJP. It is a communal party. So no question of supporting Congress, BJP and CPI(M). We are fighting them daily.”
Asked about Rahul Gandhi’s maturity as a politician, she said, “I am a commoner. Some are born with a golden spoon. During election time they can be seen mingling with people and talking about poverty and empowerment. What will they know of poverty and struggle? People have already rejected Congress”.
On whether she would agree to become the Prime Minister if the federal front comes to power, she expressed surprise, “Why only me? There are many other leaders who can be good leaders for the country. People will decide the next Prime Minister.”
“Federal front is the future. Whatever happens, will emerge only after elections”, Ms. Banerjee, who is now electioneering in north Bengal, said in response to a question that various poll surveys have predicted that BJP has the best prospect of coming to power.”
The country had been badly run for most of the 66 years since Independence and so the people need a change in the system, she said.
Asserting that the states should have more power, she said the federal structure has to be strengthened.
“Currently the Centre is behaving as masters, like states are its slaves. This master-slave relationship is not good for the country. We need to change that. So, an alliance of the states must be formed,” she said, adding that they want political and economic stability as well as good governance.
Asked about who would be the allies in the federal front, she said any political force that is keen to fight corruption, dynasty rule and politics of communal riots is welcome to join the front.
“It will take shape only after the election results are out,” she asserted.
Hitting out at her predecessor Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee’s claim that there was no taker for such a federal front and his assertion that Left is trying to forge a third alternative post poll, Banerjee questioned his credibility.
“What is his credibility? The people have rejected him and his party. He even lost his Assembly seat. Third Front has not worked in the past. Third Front means third rate. CPI(M) will lose polls, so there is no question of Third Front. I am hopeful about the federal front.”
She said after coming to power, the only target of the federal front will be to make policies that will help people.
“We need a change in the political system. We need judicial reforms, administrative reforms. But most importantly we need electoral reforms,” Ms. Banerjee said, adding that there should be a clear demarcation between the power of the Centre and the states.
“Why should a few political parties fight elections with black money? It must stop. It is a cancer in our system,” she said.
On CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee not ruling out tie up with Congress again if a 2004-like situation arose, she alleged that Congress had always been the B-team of CPI(M) and vice versa.
“The Congress-BJP-CPI(M) have formed a joint venture in Bengal. Their plan is to defeat Trinamool Congress. At places they have secret understanding to cut our votes,” she alleged.
“CPI(M) stands for destruction. They have ruined Bengal,” she said.
In West Bengal, where Congress, BJP and CPI(M) have made four-cornered contests in all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, she said she might bag all the seats.
“Voting for one of these parties means voting for the other. People will never commit the mistake of bringing CPI(M) back. Earlier I thought we will win 35-36 seats. I will not be surprised if we win all 42 seats in Bengal. We have an alliance in Bengal... an alliance with the people,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Asked if she is afraid of BJP cutting into the TMC vote bank in a number of seats in West Bengal this time, she said, .
“They are ‘na ghar ka, na ghat ka’. Only during election season, they come to Bengal to create division between people. They will not get even one seat from Bengal.”