Mamata Banerjee | Photo:PTI
Kolkata: Reaching out to regional parties to push for an anti-BJP alliance a day after the saffron camp swept elections in four states, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday sought to edge the Congress out of any prospective opposition formation, stating there was no point in waiting for the grand old party as its lacked 'fire in the belly'.
Reacting sharply to Banerjee's fulminations, the Congress struck back pointing out that Prime Minster Narendra Modi's and her stand were similar, with one seeking a "Congress `Mukt' (Free) India" and the other, an "Opposition coalition sans Congress."
"I feel all the political parties who want to fight against the BJP must work together. There is no point in depending on Congress," the TMC Supremo said.
She pointed that the Congress was "earlier capable of winning as it had an organization."
However, Banerjee said, "they are now they are losing everywhere. it doesn't seem they are interested anymore (in winning). They have lost credibility, and there is no point in depending on them."
She went on to point out that there were many strong regional parties, implying they could together be a more effective force.
The BJP on Thursday had stormed back to power in Uttar Pradesh and retained Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, while Arvind Kejriwal's AAP scripted a stellar victory in Punjab, winning a three-fourth majority pulverizing the Congress.
The outcome of the February-March assembly polls, seen as a barometer to gauge people's mood ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections, saw the Congress' vote share shrinking in most places.
Asked about the performance of the Congress in the five states, Banerjee said, "It is for them to decide on what they want to do. But I think all opposition parties must come together to defeat the BJP. There is no need to wait for the Congress," she added.
When asked about whether and when she plans to conduct an opposition Chief Ministers conclave which she had proposed during her telephonic conversations with Tamil Nadu and Telangana counterparts M K Stalin and K Chandrasekhar Rao last month, Banerjee said nothing has been decided yet.
"Let others decide," she said.
Reacting to her comments, Leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the TMC had gone to Goa to defeat the Congress in the coastal state.
"Today she is propagating that the Congress should be kept out of the coalition of the opposition parties. Modi is propagating 'Congress-free India" and Didi is saying "Congress-sans opposition coalition," Chowdhury said.
He accused Banerjee's party of foraying into Goa "in order to defeat the Congress and make the BJP happy and (able to) win the election there."
"If you (Banerjee) had not wooed Congress leaders (away) and entered into the poll fray, the result could be different," he claimed.