Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a television interview on Tuesday that she had tried to dissuade the Congress from moving the impeachment motion to remove the chief justice of India (CJI), arguing that the case for the opposition parties wasn’t strong enough.

In an interview with News 18 Bangla, Banerjee said she had discussed the issue with former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, but she didn’t listen. She slammed the move as a wrong political step, from which her Trinamool Congress party had distanced itself, breaking rank with other opposition parties.

At the same time, Banerjee said the need of the hour was to forge an alliance among regional parties to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). All forces opposed to the BJP should come together and make sure that in the 2019 general elections, the mightiest candidate is fielded in every seat, regardless of party colour, to take on the BJP in a bipolar contest, she said, echoing Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who, too, spoke of the same electoral strategy in a recent interview with Mint.

Asked about her stand on the Congress in respect of the alliance that she is looking to build, Banerjee said the party was welcome to join it. But for such an alliance to work, the Congress has to be more accommodative and “willing to let go", she said, even as she slammed a section of the media, alleging that it was pressuring her to “bow to Rahul Gandhi", the Congress president.

“I will not," she said firmly. Asked if in her view Sonia Gandhi had stepped down as Congress president a little too early, she declined to comment, saying that it was a matter decided between “a mother and her son". “I won’t get into it."

Asked about the violence witnessed in West Bengal in the run up to the upcoming panchayat elections, she said workers of the Trinamool Congress were at the receiving end of aggression and intimidation, and that a section of the media was trying to malign her image with a political motivation.

Rubbishing allegations that the Trinamool Congress was obstructing people from opposition other parties from filing nominations, Banerjee said some 96,000 people not affiliated to her party had filed nominations to contest in 58,650-odd seats. That clearly shows there was no obstruction and the picture created by a section of the media was “completely exaggerated", she claimed.

In a first, she praised her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, as a “politician with ideology", while using the same descriptor for former chief minister, the late Jyoti Basu—a leader she had turned to at the peak of her strife with the administration over land acquisition in Singur in 2006.

But current leaders of the CPM have no ideology, she said, adding that many of her own supporters are ideologically Leftists. “I have no problem with such people," she said. Though as an opposition leader in West Bengal, she was once a sworn enemy of Bhattacharjee, she has lately had a change of heart: she has visited the ailing former chief minister at his home twice in the recent past.

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