Coalition for Sure, Non-BJP Parties Will Form Govt: Derek O’ Brien

Derek O’ Brien claims that TMC doesn’t need to study 1 week before the exams; they gear up for it 365 days a year.

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The big fat Indian elections are here – and that is all the country is talking about at the moment. We caught up with Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’ Brien and had a chat about what it looks like from the eyes of an opposition leader at this stage.

Talking exclusively to The Quint, Derek O’ Brien discussed the upcoming elections, the TMC’s stance on the coalition, and the BJP, of course!

With the Brigade rally on 19th January, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee already took the lead in unifying the opposition and Mr O’ Brien seems pretty confident about forming the next coalition Govt. Full interview below:

How is TMC gearing up for elections?

Elections aren’t like examinations. Or, maybe they are. But the TMC doesn’t need to study one week before the exams because we gear up for 365 days of the year. We were the first party in India to announce all 42 candidates in West Bengal and some other states, so we are first out of the block. So, we are all set.

Are you confident to come back with a majority this time?

The TMC are fighting about 40 seats in Bengal and 10 seats in other states. We are absolutely confident that not only in West Bengal, but all the other Opposition parties will do very, very well. The BJP, who have not delivered and have done big talk, will be thrown out of the country lock, stock and barrel! After that, the Opposition will get together and form a new government on 23 May 2019.

Any number predictions? Any scope of talks with Congress?

I am not a psephologist, but suffice to say that the BJP will lose at least a 100 seats. So they won’t be anywhere close to 272. We will do well in West Bengal. Akhilesh ji and Mayawati ji will do very well in UP. Mr Stalin will lead the coalition in Tamil Nadu. The Congress is supposed to do well in 3-4 states and with their ally too in Karnataka. In Andhra Pradesh also, the results will be against the BJP. So more or less, across the country, I would expect that the BJP/NDA would end up between 150 and 170.


In case of a coalition, what role would Mamata Banerjee like to play? What are her PM ambitions?

There is no ‘in case of a coalition’. We (Opposition) are forming the government. The non-BJP parties are forming the government. Who will be the prime minister isn’t important at this moment. The people of India have decided that the Preamble of our Constitution says: “We, the people.” The Opposition are saying that “We, the people” means all of us. What the BJP have to offer (is) “We, the people” (for them) means Amit Shah and Modi. That’s the difference between the two coalitions unless you want to rewrite the Constitution. When I last read the Constitution, it said very clearly that the members of Parliament will elect [the prime minister]. That’s the way it goes, and that is democracy. The BJP have a different Constitution. In their Constitution, it’s written that Amit Shah and Modi will decide everything. People of India will never allow this.

Do you think the BJP stands any chance in Bengal?

The people of India are sharp. They know the issues are jobs or the lack of them. They know the issues are promises that haven’t been delivered. The people of India know that the agriculture situation is in a mess. The people of India know that India’s great institutions like Parliament or the RBI or the CBI have all been messed up. So, the people of India know these are the issues. Everything else is a distraction. A deliberate – confuse the conversation – plan of the BJP.

TMC is also accused of minority vote-bank politics. Is that a valid criticism?

There is no minority-majority (vote bank). That is the polarisation conversation that the BJP wants to start. You come to Bengal or go to the other parts, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. That’s a conversation we don’t want to have. India we know, where I grew up in Ballygunge – it’s a Hindu-majority locality named after a Muslim and we grew up in a Christian family. That’s the India I know. That’s the India we will fight for.

Will we ever see you contesting the elections?

Most unlikely, because there are different people – as they say, horses for courses. I am very happy with my own role. Whatever role the party gives me, I will continue to do because I am a loyal soldier of the TMC and Mamata Banerjee.

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