Mamata Banerjee names Nitish Kumar, Hemant Soren, Akhilesh Yadav as 2024 poll allies

KOLKATA: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee Thursday vowed a return to the intensity of her “khela hobe” campaign for the election season leading to the 2024 finale, mentioning in one breath Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, his Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren and Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav as potential allies who could easily help cut BJP’s tally by 100 seats.

“Nitishji, Akhilesh and Hemant…We are together. Politics is a battlefield. We have fought for 34 years,” Mamata declared at a Trinamool preparatory meeting for the 2023 rural polls.

“BJP takes pride in its 275-300 seats. But (we should remember that) Rajiv Gandhi had 400 Lok Sabha seats before losing the next general elections (in 1989)… ‘Mann ki baat’ would become ‘Mann ki byatha (pain)’, she said without once naming PM Narendra Modi.

Much of the CM’s speech pitted BJP’s alleged use of central agencies to go after rivals against Trinamool’s professed policy of focusing on employment generation. “We don’t want BJP agencies, we want jobs,” she said.

Alluding to the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI probing cases involving at least three prominent Trinamool names — arrested ex-minister Partha Chatterjee, state law minister

Moloy Ghatak

and Birbhum strongman Anubrata Mondal — Mamata said, “Never bow down. Let them arrest whoever they want, we don’t care…These attempts by the Enforcement Directorate, the CBI and the I-T will get a befitting reply in the people’s court.” Not for the first time, the CM stood up for Mondal, something she hadn’t done even for Partha after his arrest in the jobs-for-cash case.

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