Bengal BJP chief does U-turn, says remarks on Mamata’s PM prospects were made in jest

Kolkata | In a U-turn, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh Sunday said his remark on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s prime ministerial prospects was made in jest, even as the opposition claimed that the statement reflected a “tacit understanding” between the TMC and the saffron party.

Extending his birthday wishes to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo, Ghosh Saturday said Banerjee “needs to remain fit” because she was currently the only one who had the chance of becoming the first Bengali prime minister. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader also claimed that the chief minister was ahead in the race among Bengalis.

“On Saturday, when reporters asked me whether I would like to make any comment on Mamata Banerjee, I just extended my best wishes to her. Whatever I said about her prime ministership was just a joke. I was joking as it was her birthday,” Ghosh told PTI.

The Congress, however, said the statement was “sort of an admission” from the state BJP chief, who probably knew that the chances of the saffron party returning to power at the Centre after this year’s general election were “slim”.

“The statement reflects two things — a covert understanding between the BJP and the TMC, and that attempts to forge federal fronts are ploys to divide the opposition,” senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Abdul Mannan told PTI. Ghosh’s remark showed that he was certain that the BJP would not come back to power, he added.

Echoing similar sentiments, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership said the “tacit understanding between the TMC and the BJP is now out in the open”. “We have been saying this for a long time that the TMC and the BJP are playing a fixed political match in the state. Now the state BJP president himself has given a proof of it with his remarks,” CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.

In his defence, Ghosh said his remark should not be taken “seriously”. “Anyone with a bit of political sense can very well say that Mamata Banerjee can never become the prime minister with the number of Lok Sabha seats she has,” he said. When approached, the TMC leadership declined to comment on the issue.

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