In a sharp attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that the country is facing "cruel and undemocratic" party which "victimised" Bollywood personalities like actor Shah Rukh Khan and director Mahesh Bhatt.
"We are facing a cruel undemocratic party - the BJP. If we come together, we will win," Banerjee said at a large gathering of around 50 prominent civil society members including political and social leaders, retired judges, intellectuals, film celebs and other luminaries.
To a question, she said: "Mahesh ji has been victimised, even Shah Rukh Khan... and many others. But, if we have to win, we must speak out and fight it out wherever needed. You guide and advise us as a political party."
Stressing the need for putting up a united front before the BJP's challenge, Banerjee said: "India loves manpower, not muscle-power."
She said regional parties like Shiv Sena in Maharashtra which are strong in their respective states must join hands to unitedly dislodge the BJP from power.
On the occasion, the Trinamool Congress chief, currently on a two-day visit to Mumbai, recalled the Nobel Prize laureate Rabindranath Tagore's poem on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to say that "there is already a bridge between Bengal and Maharashtra".
Senior NCP leader and lawyer Majeed Memon cited the Supreme Court's observations how in the recent past, many laws have been rushed through the parliament which do not augur well for the people plus they are open to challenges before the courts.
He said that the West Bengal and Maharashtra together account for 90 seats in Lok Sabha and "Jai Bangla, Jai Maharashtra" can put up a formidable challenge to dislodge the BJP at the Centre, akin to the alliance of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress in Maharashtra with the guidance of NCP President Sharad Pawar, with the BJP kept out of power.
"The Maharashtra model where parties like the Sena and Congress managed to keep their differences aside and worked on common goals, can be replicated elsewhere in the country with similar results," Memon urged.
The meeting was attended by former high court judges Shafi Sayeed Parkar and Abhay M. Thipsay, senior lawyer Memon, lyricist Javed Akhtar, director Bhatt, intellectuals Bhalchandra Mungekar, Sudheendra Kulkarni, S. Balakrishnan, and Ayaz Memon, Bollywood actors Shatrughan Sinha, Swara Bhaskar, and Richa Chaddha, comedian Munawar Farooqui, social activists Vidya Chavan, Javed Anand and Medha Patkar, author Shobha De, among many others.
The meeting with leading lights from various fields was part of Banerjee's 2-day high-profile visit to the state during which she met NCP chief Pawar, Sena leaders, MP Sanjay Raut, Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, the highlight of her trip, and she is likely to return home on Thursday morning.
( 464 Words)