Kolkata : In an 180-degree change of stance, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday that she could have considered supporting NDA’s Presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu had the BJP informed her about its choice in advance.
Stating this at the Rath Yatra function of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) here, Banerjee also admitted that Draupadi Murmu has a better chance of winning than Yashwant Sinha, the unanimous opposition candidate.
“Draupadi Murmu has a better chance of winning. Had the BJP informed me in advance that it will field a tribal woman as its Presidential candidate, I could have thought otherwise and made attempts accordingly. For a larger national interest, the opposition parties could have discussed the issue then.
“It would have been better for the nation had there been a unanimous consensus candidate, just as it happened in case of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. But though the BJP sought my opinion on the issue of Presidential poll, it did not tell me anything about its choice,” the Chief Minister said.
Banerjee also gave a subtle hint that the doors are not closed totally for a possibility of supporting Murmu.
“But I cannot take any decision alone now, since the decision about the unanimous opposition candidate was taken together by 17 parties. Unless the others agree, I alone cannot decide anything. All I want is a peaceful Presidential poll,” the Chief Minister said.
The opposition parties, however, have ridiculed the changed stand of the Chief Minister on this issue.
BJP’s national vice-president and party MP Dilip Ghosh said that this changed stance of Banerjee is because of the realisation that Yashwant Sinha will be defeated by a huge margin.
“She is now claiming that had the BJP informed her in advance, she could have given a positive consideration on Murmu’s nomination. Then why was she in a hurry to field a unanimous opposition candidate before the NDA announced its nominee? She could have waited till the time Draupadi Murmu’s name was announced,” Ghosh said.
CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said that he is not surprised by the changed stand of the Chief Minister since it is in her nature.
“Actually, she has to protect her family members and party leaders from the clutches of central agencies like the CBI and the ED. That is why it is necessary for her to keep Prime Minister Narendra Modi in good humour. The clandestine understanding between Trinamool Congress and BJP is crystal clear now,” Chakraborty said.
Echoing Chakraborty, senior Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that probably Banerjee has understood that she went overboard by taking the initiative to field a unanimous opposition candidate.
“She is now realising that her action had made the BJP leadership angry. So now she is attempting a balancing act to keep the BJP leadership in good humour. This is what she has been practising all through,” Chowdhury said.