INTERVIEW

We are working with other opposition parties to defeat BJP

24-Derek Derek O’Brien | PTI

Interview/ Derek O’Brien, Trinamool Congress’s parliamentary party leader in the Rajya Sabha

Is the Trinamool Congress eyeing expansion, in other states?

The name of our party is the All India Trinamool Congress. We are a recognised national party by the Election Commission.

What is your stand towards left parties?

The BJP does not understand the concept of unity and diversity. They are only doing PR and not changing people’s lives. The opposition parties will devise a strategy. It is too early to talk about tactics now. Parties that are strong in each state will devise a strategy to take on the BJP state by state.

Will the Congress accept Mamata Banerjee as the leader of the opposition alliance?

Mamata Banerjee has said she is not a VIP, but an LIP (less important person). Her decades of struggle are her best credentials. She is truly a people’s leader. In her stints as Union minister she has shown how she can deliver on good governance. In the last seven years under her stewardship, West Bengal has made huge progress. She has changed lives. Right now, she is a key, inspirational, highly respected and able partner among the opposition.

Will the Trinamool field candidates in the assembly elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka?

We are not fielding candidates in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, but we are closely in touch with more than 15 opposition parties. We will do all it takes to work in close coordination with them, to produce winning results and defeat those who are only coining slogans like ‘Digital India’ but are really creating ‘Divisive India’.

How will you deal with the RJD, which is facing corruption charges?

Before answering this question, let me tell you about what the BJP’s overall strategy is. It is trying to build a narrative around a ten-letter word called corruption. This is a false narrative. The true narrative that the opposition will be focusing on is another ten-letter word, which also starts with c—competence. The BJP has to answer questions on competence. How many jobs has it created? What has it done to the economy? Although international oil prices are coming down, have the benefits been passed on to consumers? What are the short- and long-term effects of demonetisation? What are the ill-effects of rolling out the GST?

And, is the BJP taint-free? Can the party say that all its MPs and MLAs are taint-free? Why will they dictate to people what they should eat, think or wear? These are the questions to be answered, not about individual political parties.

Will the BJP polarise the voters in West Bengal by taking advantage of your rainbow coalition?

The majority of the people in Bengal are very much with the Trinamool Congress. Who comes second, third or fourth is another story. Polarisation will never work in Bengal because Mamata Banerjee’s government is based on the twin pillars of communal harmony and good governance.

What would you like to say about the rise of the BJP in Bengal? It has taken the second position, though a distant second, by elbowing out the left and the Congress.

All I can tell you is that the All India Trinamool Congress under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee is far, far ahead in Bengal.

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