Mamata calls for ‘poribortan’ in Delhi, opposition hits back (Roundup)

Kolkata, Jan 30: Making evident her desire to play a larger role nationally, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday called for “poribortan” (change) in Delhi, asserting that her Trinamool Congress was the only alternative to the Congress and the BJP.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress lost no time in ridiculing Banerjee for her “Delhi ambitions”.

Kicking off her party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha polls at a mammoth rally here at Brigade Parade Grounds, the Trinamool supremo said a “strong federal front” was required for a “positive” and “pro-people” government to provide good governance.

“Our fight is against the Congress, the BJP and the Left Front. Our fight is against corruption, communalism. Today’s rally proves democracy is for the people and not for dynasties,” she told the rally.

“We need ‘poribortan’ (change) in Delhi. We want to give this call from Bengal: What Bengal thinks today, India will think tomorrow. Bengal will show the way.

“Our slogan is ‘Remove Corruption, Save India’.

“We don’t want a government which indulges in riots. We want a peace-loving and constructive government,” said Banerjee, referring to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Banerjee, who has floated the idea of a federal front of regional parties, said such a forum was indispensable for providing good governance to the country.

“India is for all. We want good governance, we want rule of law and a united India. We want a pro-people government. For that we need a federal front comprising powerful states,” she added.

The Trinamool leader said she would campaign during the Lok Sabha polls outside Bengal too and urged party members to reach out to people in other states.

“We need to be stronger in Delhi. The more Lok Sabha seats we win, greater (will) be our importance. Now we will fight outside Bengal.

Though she spoke mostly in Bengali, Banerjee switched to Hindi on a few occasions to introduce representatives of the party attending the rally from 13 other states.

Accusing the Congress, the Left and the BJP of having “forged an alliance”, Banerjee said they would be routed in the Lok Sabha polls much like in the recently held rural and civic elections in the state.

The chief minister also hit out at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which recently gave a clean chit to the erstwhile Left Front regime in the Nandigram police firing case that claimed 14 lives in 2007.

The opposition was not impressed.

If state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya likened her “prime ministerial ambition to day dreaming”, CPI-M leader Mohammad Salim accused her of neglecting the state.

“The formation of (a federal) front neither has any political significance nor any probability. People can indulge in day dreaming but nobody is foreseeing any probability of her becoming the PM,” Bhattacharya said.

Banerjee though found support in eminent author and activist Mahasweta Devi who described her as the “only ideal candidate to be the prime minister”.

IANS