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Mahagathbandhan gathering of opportunists, its leaders interested only in becoming PM: Mahesh Sharma

twitter-logoPTI | May 15, 2019 | Updated 17:33 IST

By Sudipto Chowdhury Kolkata, May 15 (PTI) BJP leader and Union minister Mahesh Sharma has described the "mahagathbandhan" of non-BJP parties as a gathering of "opportunists" who have no ideology of patriotism, growth or development and are interested only in "their pound of flesh". Sharma also called them "private limited companies" unable to stand with the expectations of people. In an interview to PTI, he said the leaders fighting BJP do not want a strong government at the Centre, so that each one of them can have an opportunity to sit on the chair of the prime minister. More than 20 regional parties had come together during a rally hosted by the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata in January, vowing to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in Lok Sabha polls. More such rallies were planned as a non-BJP front of regional parties started taking shape. But the idea tapered off amid signs of differences among the leaders over seat-sharing and PM candidate. Several regional leaders, including N Chandrababu Naidu, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, however have refuted any suggestion of contradiction among themselves and some of them have said they will decide their PM candidate together based on the election results on May 23. They have also said there are several leaders who can become the prime minister. "Mahagathbandhan is a cluster of opportunists. There is no ideology in this so-called mahagathbandhan," Sharma said, referring to the coming together of the regional parties. "I do not see any ideology of rashtravaad (patriotism) or any ideology of growth and development. All the leaders in this mahagathbandhan want to draw their pound of flesh," he said. The BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, which sends the highest number of 80 members to Lok Sabha, said people know this time they would be voting for the wider interest of the country. This election, he asserted, is about a government which can take India "50 years ahead", adding there's a "sea change" in the vision of the people who want a stable government and an able leader. "People are looking for a strong, decisive, hard working and honest prime minister who can work above casteism and above family politics. That leader is Modi ji," he said. Sharma expressed confidence the BJP will win a "thumping victory" in the general election and more than 22 seats in West Bengal. Asked whether Modi was holding rallies in Bengal to make up for losses in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, Sharma said the eastern state was a matter of "concern" for his party. "It is burning and trailing in the indicator of development scale. So our prime minister is very, very concerned about West Bengal. That's the reason he is visiting it so frequently," he said. Sharma accused Banerjee of appeasement politics and responsible for lack of development. "Where is West Bengal today? Why is it the most loan-burdened state in the country? Why is it not moving in the same pace in which other states of the nation are progressing?" he said, raising also the issue of illegal immigrants and demographic imbalance. When pointed out that Modi and Shah have repeatedly stated that the National Register of Citizens would be introduced in Bengal if BJP wins the election under way, and Banerjee is opposing it, Sharma emphasised there is an "urgent need" to introduce NRC to identify illegal immigrants living here after March 24, 1971. "We have limited resources. If we continue to permit this infiltration from different parts of the world to our country... We have to put checks and balances," he said. Sharma alleged Bengal has become an "entry point" of terrorists from neighbouring countries. "It's quite true that West Bengal has become a safe haven for terrorists. There are porous borders and all this is happening under the protection of the state government," he alleged. PTI SCH ABH ABH ABH

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