KOLKATA, APR 11 : Senior Congress leader and Union Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today dismissed allegation by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that Mamata Banerjee had failed to perform as a railway minister and predicted she would run the state well if she became the chief minister.
“She is running the Railways well. She will also run the state well if she becomes the chief minister,” Mukherjee said at a meet-the-press programme here.
Mukherjee’s support of the key UPA ally came at a time when Bhattacharjee and other Marxist leaders focused on the alleged non-performance by the railway minister and the poor financial position of her ministry without taking her name at campaign rallies.
Describing her as the leader of the Congress-Trinamool alliance, Mukherjee predicted a ‘comfortable’ majority for the alliance.
Justifying his party’s decision to ally with Trinamool despite being given only 65 out of 294 seats, he said, “We think an opportunity has come to downsize the strength of the Left Front to a minority.”
He said that Left Front was losing people’s support which was evident in a series of electoral debacles it suffered including the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the subsequent Assembly bye-elections.
In a message to Congress rebels whom he had threatened to expel for six years for contesting against Trinamool Congress candidates in Malda, North Dinajpur and Murshidabad districts, he said, “People want a change and the voters were polarised between the Left and the Congress-Trinamool alliance. The rebels will lose their security deposits.”
Mukherjee’s dire comments followed assertion of a party MP from Murshidabad district that he was prepared to get even suspended from the party for backing the rebels against Trinamool Congress candidates in four constituencies in Murshidabad.
“People are yearning for a change of the LF government and those who are contesting as Independents should respect people’s emotions,” he said and warned of expulsion from the party if they contested against official candidates, as per the party constitution.
Mukherjee felt that the rebels, including some sitting legislators, might have grievances for being denied tickets or over the alliance with the Trinamool Congress, but they should honour people’s aspirations for a change.
“Not a single vote against the Left Front should be wasted. Anybody contesting as an independent cannot be a nominee of the party,” he said.
“I will not reply to a question about any individual,” Mukherjee said when he was reminded about MP Adhir Chowdhury from Behrampore in Murshidaband district who remained firm in backing the rebels against the Trinamool nominees.
Referring to the Left Front’s declining electoral curve, he said the undivided Congress in West Bengal before the birth of Trinamool Congress in 1998 used to get 38 to 40 per cent votes, but still could not dislodge the Left Front from power.
“But for the first time, success was achieved against the Left Front in the Lok Sabha election in 2009 when both the parties fought together. It saw the Left’s strength in the Lok Sabha come down to 15 MPs from 35 while the combined strength of Trinamool and Congress went up to 26 MPs from seven,” he said.
He said that the Left Front, which had enough opportunity to ensure all-round development of the state for 35 years, failed to fulfil the demands of the people.
“I would not say no work had been done in the past 35 years. But it could not take the state to the path of development given the opportunity it had,” the finance minister said.
On the attacks on Opposition candidates in some places, he said the Election Commission should look into them and ‘as per the constitutional provisions, it is the duty of the Election Commission to ensure a violence-free election’.
He said that Centre was providing adequate security forces to the Election Commission for the coming polls.
CONGRESS DISSIDENT'S CANDIDATES WILL LOSE: PRANAB
Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee Monday said the independents fielded by the dissident Congress leaders will face a humiliating defeat at the hands of Trinamool and Congress alliance candidates and even lose their security deposits.
“The independents will lose their deposits in many places if they fight against the alliance candidates. If any party leader or worker goes against the official decision of the party, they will be punished according to the constitution of our party,” Mukherjee told reporters here.
Mukherjee cautioned the candidates fielded as independents by dissident party workers of expulsion from the party if they contested against the official party candidates.
“We cannot stop anybody from contesting elections as it is their constitutional right. But nobody can contest against the official candidate and get the support of the party workers,” he said.
Mukherjee also said that though the voters of the state are totally polarised between the Left Front and the Trinamool-Congress alliance, the latter would win.
“People of Bengal want this alliance as it has shown in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls that it can defeat the Left Front,” he said.