Locked in a bitter feud with the Centre over demonetisation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday sought the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and mooted a “national government” headed by BJP veteran L K Advani, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley or Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
With a section within the BJP miffed over the demonetisation move, the TMC chief’s utterances are being viewed by political analysts as an attempt to drive a wedge within the saffron party.
The TMC supremo, who has declared an all out war against the Modi dispensation over demonetisation and arrest of her party MPs in chit fund scam, sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention to “save the country from Narendra Modi”. “All opposition parties should forget their differences and come together to save the nation.
“It’s high time the President intervened and saved the country. That person (Modi) can’t lead the nation. He should step down. There should be a national government,” she said, suggesting the names of Advani, Jaitley and Singh to replace Modi.
She appreciated Mukherjee’s statement on Thursday that demonetisation could lead to a temporary slowdown of the economy.
“I have never seen such a vindictive government at the Centre. They are breaking age-old institutions like the Planning Commission and others. They are breaking the backbone of the government,” she told reporters.
The Chief Minister claimed West Bengal had lost Rs 5,500 crore following demonetisation and accused the Centre of “letting loose a reign of terror” on Opposition parties.
A combative Banerjee also dared the BJP leaders to “touch her” when she visits the party-ruled Jharkhand.
“Two of my ministers and party leaders will visit Jharkhand and meet the tribal whose land has been forcibly taken away by the state government. After they come back and give me a report, I will visit Jharkhand. They (BJP) have said they will beat me up If I visit a BJP-ruled state. I want to see if they can even touch me,” Banerjee said.
Her comments followed BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s recent warning to the TMC to “mend its ways or face consequences”. Vijayvargiya had wondered whether TMC MPs and even Mamata Banerjee would be able to go around the country and enter New Delhi if his party started protesting against them.
Banerjee did not mince words on Friday when she slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the present situation in the country owing to the government’s demonetisation move and the arrest of two TMC ministers Tapas Paul and Sudip Bandyopadhyay by the CBI. Both ministers have been arrested allegedly in connection with Rose Valley chit fund scam. In a statement, Banerjee said, “In the current situation, a national government should be formed with another BJP person at the helm. He (PM Modi) has to go.”
After the arrest of Sudip Bandyopadhyay, the West Bengal chief minister had said: “The Centre can’t tolerate any opposition. We are speaking out against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, which is why the CBI is attacking us now.”
She also charged the CBI for acting as an agent of the Centre to oppose political opposition.
A national government is a coalition government, especially one subordinating party differences to the national interest in a time of crisis, as in Britain under Ramsay MacDonald in 1931.