Dilip Ghosh, the West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, said on Sunday that his remark on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s chances of becoming the Prime Minister should be “taken in good humour”.
Ghosh, who ruffled a few feathers in his own party with his backing of Banerjee as India’s first Bengali Prime Minister in a press conference on Saturday, took a U-turn saying that there is no chance that the 64-year-old Trinamool Congress chief will ever hold the position.
“I was asked a question to which I replied that my wishes will be with her (Mamata Banerjee) if she becomes PM; that is only what I said,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
“But there is no possibility at all of it happening. These things are to be taken in good humour,” Ghosh added.
The BJP leader had on Saturday extended birthday wishes to Banerjee and said that if any Bengali politician has the strongest chance of becoming Prime Minister, it is the West Bengal CM.
“Mamata Banerjee’s name is first in this list to become PM. it will be good that if a Bengali became PM. Jyoti Basu could not but Mamata Banerjee can,” he said.
Underlining that it is time to have a Bengali as PM, Ghosh said, “We want her (Banerjee) to be fit so that she can work well. She needs to remain fit because if there is any Bengali who has the chance to be the PM from this Bengal, then she is the one.”
Ghosh also said that the “fate of our state depends on her success”.
Besides coming as a shock to his own party, Ghosh’s remarks also brought in Opposition charges of a tacit understanding between the TMC and BJP.
Senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan said that Ghosh’s Saturday remark was “sort of an admission” from the state BJP chief that the saffron party’s chances of returning to power in 2019 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,” the leader of opposition in the state Assembly said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership, too, said that 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,” said CPI(M) central committee leader Sujan Chakraborty.
(With inputs from agencies.)