West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was number one on the list as a potential prime ministers from Bengal, said state BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Saturday, remarking that the state should have one in the top post. His comments came while extending birthday wishes to Banerjee.
"I extend birthday wishes to our chief minister. I wish her a healthy and long life, because West Bengal's fortunes depend on her success. I want her to be healthy because she is the number one on the list as a potential prime minister from Bengal," he said.
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“Mamata Banerjee’s name is first in this list to become the prime minister, it will be good if a Bengal became PM. Jyoti Basu could not, but Mamata Banerjee can,” Ghosh said.
West Bengal BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh on if a Bengali can ever be PM: Mamata Banerjee's name is first in this list to become PM, it will be good that if a Bengali became PM, Jyoti Basu could not but Mamata Banerjee can. (5.1.19) pic.twitter.com/nGtEz8ZJmV— ANI (@ANI) January 6, 2019
Asked whether any BJP leader from Bengal stood the chance to become the country's prime minister, Ghosh said that could come at a later date.
"Maybe, we can have someone later. But now as a potential prime ministerial candidae from Bengal, she is number one on the list," he said.
Ghosh referred to the political developments in 1996, when the Communist Party of India-Marxist central committee had twice voted against its politburo member and then state chief minister Jyoti Basu taking over as the country's prime minister.
The United Front - a coalition of non-Congress and non-BJP political parties - had pressed hard for Basu to take the crucial chair. However, the CPI-M had argued that with the party's small strength, Basu would not be in a position to deliver as a prime minister.
"We missed out on Jyoti Basu becoming the prime minister, as his party did not allow him to occupy the top post," he said.
"A Bengali should become the prime minister now," he added.
Ghosh also expressed his happiness about Pranab Mukherjee becoming the first person from the state to become the President (from 2012-2017).
Ghosh's comments have apparently rattled the state BJP leadership, which is locked in an intense fight with the Banerjee-led ruling Trinamool Congress in its mission to put up a strong challenge to her in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
BJP national secretary and former state party president Rahul Sinha, however, refused to speak on the issue "at this moment".