We cannot imagine an INDIA bloc without Mamata ji, said Congress general secretary for communications Jairam Ramesh when courted about the West Bengal Chief Minister's recent statement about fighting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls on their own.
The Bengal CM and the chief of Trinamool Congress (TMC), Mamata Banerjee made headlines on Tuesday after she claimed that her party will contest from the state's 42 Lok Sabha seats on their merit and will only consider a national-level alliance with the Congress after the elections are over.
Addressing the media at a press conference in Assam's Bongaigaon today, Jairam Ramesh was asked about the Trinamool chief's remarks earlier in the day. However, the Congress leader looked to allay fears of any cracks in the INDIA alliance quickly.
Jairam Ramesh, who is with Rahul Gandhi in Assam for the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, said, "We cannot imagine an INDIA alliance without Mamata ji. We hope to enter Cooch Behar tomorrow with what Mamata ji said yesterday, that it is our duty and our priority to defeat the BJP. We are hopeful that the ongoing discussions will be fruitful and the INDIA bloc will fight the elections in Bengal as an alliance with the full support of all parties."
"The Congress chief, Rahul Gandhi, and all top leaders have held discussions and Kharge ji has extended invitations to all INDIA alliance members. I know that Kharge ji has mentioned it in his speeches repeatedly that all INDIA parties are welcome. I do not know in what sense Mamata ji said what she did, however, she also said that defeating the BJP is our duty and we have to do whatever it takes for that," added Jairam Ramesh.
Earlier in the day, Mamata Banerjee dropped a bombshell whe she said that there was no discussions on the matter with the Congress and her proposals were repeatedly rejected. She said, "I had no discussions with the Congress. I have always said that in Bengal, we will fight alone. I gave them (Congress) many proposals... but they rejected them. I am not concerned about what will be done in the (rest of the) country... but we are a secular party and, in Bengal, we alone will defeat BJP."
A frustrated Mamata Banerjee also let out her anger on Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who is currently leading the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra across the Northeast and is scheduled to enter West Bengal tomorrow.
"They are coming to my state... but did not have courtesy to inform me, even though I am part of the INDIA bloc. So there is no relations with me, as far as Bengal is concerned," the Bengal CM had said.