- BJP won't get more than 125 seats in general elections, she said
- Regional parties would be decision-makers, she added
- On Congress, she said it will be clear at the time of elections
In a rare stab at political astrology, Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the BJP would not get more that 125 seats in the 2019 general elections and regional parties and not the Congress would be the decision-makers on who governs the country. That Ms Banerjee wants regional parties to have a greater role on the national stage is known. But today, she stated emphatically that the regional parties could end up winning more seats than the BJP or the Congress. It would give them the leverage to decide on the top post, she hinted.
"I don't think the BJP will get more than 125 (seats), Congress - I don't know. The federal parties would be the decision factor this time," Ms Banerjee told reporters during an examination of the Brigade Parade, the Ground Zero of Saturday's mega rally.
The Bengal chief minister has cast the rally - which she dubbed "United India rally" -- as a mega meeting of the anti-BJP opposition parties.
Only a few regional leaders have been left out - prominent among them are Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Telangana's K Chandrashekar Rao, who has undertaken to build a non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front and YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The Congress is participating in Ms Banerjee's rally. Though party chief Rahul Gandhi is skipping the event, the Congress will be represented by senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The other key leader skipping is Mayawati, but she is sending her top Lieutenant Satish Mishra who is also scheduled to speak at the rally.
Both leaders are seen as probables for the Prime Minister's post, though the opposition, on paper, is taking a wait and see approach. Ms Banerjee also could be in the running, her party has indicated, pointing to her vast experience both in politics and governance.
For now, the rally, Ms Banerjee said, would provide an opportunity to the leaders to speak freely - "Freedom of expression" as she called it - and listen to each other. "I will listen to all points of view... we will not foist our ideology on anybody," the chief minister said.
Asked about the criticism that the opposition lacks unity, Ms Banerjee said, "Don't worry, every political party have their own political line. (In) every state they have a political compulsion... mahagathbandhan will be alliance of people and all political parties".
Those expected to attend include ex-prime minister HD Devegowda, his son HD Kumaraswamy; Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav from the RJD.