This Article is From Dec 02, 2021

Indira-Ji Apologised, Not Excused, PM Modi Won't Be Too: Mamata Banerjee

"Indiraji apologised for the Emergency, but people did not forgive her.... Our PM has apologised for the farm laws, but people won't forgive him," the Trinamool chief said

Indira-Ji Apologised, Not Excused, PM Modi Won't Be Too: Mamata Banerjee

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee - busy in Mumbai building a national profile and platform from which to challenge the BJP in the 2024 general election - took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the now-scrapped farm laws, declaring "the people won't forgive him".

The comment was part of a handful of noteworthy barbs from Ms Banerjee - aimed at the Congress and its claimed de facto position as the rallying point for opposition parties, and the BJP (over the drug case involving Shah Rukh Khan's son, Aryan) for being a "cruel and undemocratic party".

"Indiraji was a very powerful leader, but the message reached - 'emergency, emergency, emergency'. She apologised in 1977 but people did not excuse her. Our PM has apologised to farmers but message has already reached, so he won't be excused either," Ms Banerjee said.

"Today he has repealed the farm laws without discussion. But why did he repeal the farm laws... because of UP election. Everybody knows that. They are also afraid. Don't think they (the BJP) are very safe. Only the country must be saved. Don't worry, everything will work out," she added.

The comment seemed to flip an attack by Prime Minister Modi on the Congress in June, in which he condemned the party for "a systematic destruction of institutions" that "can never be forgotten".

Prime Minister Modi last month offered an "apology" to the tens of thousands of farmers who spent nearly 15 months protesting the three farm laws that this week were rolled back by Parliament, and the bill confirming their scrapping was signed last night by President Ram Nath Kovind.

The Prime Minister had said he was "apologising to (my) countrymen... with a pure and sincere heart", and blamed "some deficiency" in his government's efforts to persuade farmers to accept the laws.

But any suggestion the attack on the Prime Minister could lead to a thaw in relations with the Congress - as the two parties jostle for primacy of place among opposition parties challenging the BJP in 2024 - were quickly banished, with Ms Banerjee also firing barbs at her former allies.

She made it clear the BJP was running amok because the Congress - which led the United Progressive Alliance that was in power before the BJP - is not fighting against "the ongoing fascism".

"What UPA? There is no UPA now? What is the UPA? We will clear all issues. We want a strong alternative," she declared after meeting NCP Sharad Pawar in Mumbai.

Mr Pawar - a key opposition interlocutor in 2019 - called their meeting a "template for 2024".

Ms Banerjee also took aim at Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who she said "does nothing and is abroad half the time"; in this she echoed the BJP's line of attack on Mr Gandhi.

And this morning poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who helped Ms Banerjee script her Bengal win in April-May elections, told the party it did not have a "divine right" to lead the opposition.

The Congress struck back with Kapil Sibal underlining the party's position as the "soul" of the UPA.

Many see Mamata Banerjee as the emerging alternative of choice to PM Modi and the BJP in 2024 - a position underlined by the Trinamool's snapping up of political leaders from other parties, including (and largely from) the Congress.