West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee offered to resign on Saturday, days after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) shocker in the Lok Sabha elections.
Addressing a press conference after the party’s internal review meeting, Banerjee said, “I told my party it is very difficult to continue as chief minister, and offered to resign. But my party has not accepted it.”
“I have resigned from many chairs. It is my party symbol that matters.” Banerjee, who is also Trinamool Congress chief, said for the past six months, she had not been allowed to work. “It was like an Emergency situation. I was the chief minister but working under pressure from the Election Commission,” she said.
On instances of violence in several places during the elections, she tried to put the blame on the Election Commission, saying the people were under the protection of the poll body.
Trinamool Congress leaders met on Saturday to discuss the results of the elections, where the party got a drubbing from the BJP. With 18 seats, the BJP was close to the TMC’s tally of 22. In terms of vote share, the difference between the two parties was about three per cent.
Banerjee accused the BJP of polarising the people along religious lines. “I congratulate (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi for their win but I do not subscribe to this philosophy. I am a Hindu but I don’t believe that Muslims should be sidelined,” she said.
Political observers believed the BJP was successful in polarising the people of Bengal because of Banerjee’s Muslim appeasement policies.
The twin strategies adopted by the BJP, according to Banerjee, were polarisation and distributing money. “There is no value for developmental work. Votes were cast on the basis of money distributed,” she said. Banerjee said she would continue to speak against the BJP’s policies, but added that she would maintain a constructive equation with the Central government.