Tennis veteran Leander Paes on Friday joined the Trinamool Congress in presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Panaji.
Ms. Banerjee, who is in the coastal state on a three-day visit, welcomed Mr. Paes into the party fold.
Senior actor and activist Nafisa Ali, who contested the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from South Kolkata against Ms. Banerjee, also joined the party.
The party tweeted saying “We are extremely delighted to share that Shri Leander joined us today in the presence of our Hon’ble Chairperson Mamata Banerjee. Together, we shall ensure that every single person in this nation sees the Dawn of Democracy that we have been waiting for since 2014!”
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee told her party workers in poll-bound Goa that the BJP calls her “anti-Hindu” although it has no authority to give a “character certificate” to her, and added that the initial letters in her party’s name — TMC — also stand for temple, mosque and church.
The West Bengal chief minister, who arrived in Goa on Thursday evening as part of her three-day visit to the BJP-ruled state, also said her party wants to fight elections here not to divide votes but to make the coastal state “strong and self-sufficient” and asserted that the state will not be run from Delhi.
She said her party doesn’t divide people on religious lines even if they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians.
The TMC has announced its decision to contest all 40 Assembly seats in Goa in the upcoming polls and started inducting several local leaders into its fold. Ms. Banerjee’s tour is being seen as an attempt by her to gauge political mood in the state ahead of the Assembly polls slated in early 2022.
During her maiden interaction with the TMC leaders in Goa, Ms. Banerjee accused the BJP of defacing her posters in the state and said people of India will deface the saffron party.
“When I come to Goa, they deface my posters. You will be defaced from India,” she said.
“You deface us (our posters), show black flags, refuse to grant permission (to hold event) because you know that TMC will due but will never compromise,” she said while targeting the ruling BJP in Goa.
Ms. Banerjee said that if the TMC comes to power in Goa, it will not work with the agenda of revenge, but work for the state.
Listing out various welfare schemes rolled out by her government in her home state, she said if the TMC can do it in West Bengal, the it can also do it the small state of Goa.
“I will be happy to do it. I am not going to be the chief minister of Goa, but I will see that there is policy, mechanism and no corruption in the government,” she said.
Ms. Banerjee said the TMC is a national party and it can go anywhere.
“We will work for Goa in a strong manner. It is not that we want to divide votes. You have given opportunity to all parties, now give opportunity to the TMC,” she said She said the initial three letters in her party’s name TMC also stand for temple, mosque and church.
“BJP calls me anti-Hindu, but they are no one to give me character certificate. They should first decide their own character certificate,” the 66-year-old leader said.
Stating that the TMC doesn’t divide people on the basis of religions - be they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians, Ms. Banerjee said, “We unite people.” She narrated how she has been associated with the all the religions by way of festivals and rituals.
Recalling her stint as a Union Minister earlier, the TMC chief said she has travelled the country.
“I know India very well,” she said.
Calling the TMC a transparent party, she said, “If you trust us, the party will give its fullest to back to you...Goa will not be run from Delhi.” Banerjee said her party wants to make Goa strong and self-sufficient and also protect the state’s cultural heritage.
Referring to the Congress, she said the party has contested elections for 60-70 years.
“Last time (in 2017 Goa polls), you (Congress) allowed the BJP to form the government. They may repeat the same thing. How can we trust them? TMC is ready to give their blood for Goa, but it will not compromise with BJP,” she said.