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Will campaign for regional parties against BJP if asked to: Mamata

ANNOUNCING THAT she plans to visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi to “light diyas”, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said her party does not want to weaken the fight of regional parties against the BJP by contesting polls in every state, but is ready to campaign if required.

Briefing reporters after meeting the Prime Minister on the third day of her Delhi visit, Banerjee said she will campaign if any regional party invites her to do so. “A decision will be taken when the time comes. In Goa, Haryana and Tripura, we have started [party units]. In Uttar Pradesh, we have a small unit. But I feel there are some areas where let them fight, the regional parties, strongly, if necessary we can campaign for them, it depends,” she said.

To a related question, she said, “I want to visit Varanasi. There I will light diyas, there are plans to visit Shiv Mandir.”

“The TMC wants the BJP defeated. But we will not fight polls everywhere. We will fight where we are needed. If Akhilesh wants our help, we are ready,” she said, when asked if the TMC will field candidates in the 2022 UP polls.

On her meeting with the Prime Minister, Banerjee said she raised issues from the decision to expand the territorial jurisdiction of the BSF in Bengal, “which will disturb the federal structure”, to clearance of pending dues, and “atrocities in Tripura”.

The Chief Minister said the Prime Minister has accepted her invite to inaugurate a global business meet in West Bengal in April.

“On the BSF issue, I said we need to strengthen the federal structure… Law and order is a state subject and it may lead to confrontations,” she said, demanding that the Home Ministry order extending the BSF’s jurisdiction up to 50 km inside the international borders be revoked.

Asked if she plans to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal during her stay here, she said, “I did not seek time from anyone apart from the PM. I know there are polls in Punjab and they are busy, let them work for their party.” Banerjee said she will meet Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar during her visit to Mumbai from November 30.

Rejecting suggestions that TMC’s expansion attempts are coming at the cost of the Congress, Banerjee said, “If someone joins our party, it is their choice. We are not building or breaking any party.”

On her meeting with BJP leader Subramanian Swamy earlier in the day, she said: “You can meet anybody if a person is interested to meet you. There may be political differences but what is the harm?”

Swamy, dropped from the BJP’s national executive committee last month, told reporters they discussed matters on West Bengal. Asked if he plans to join TMC, Swamy said: “I was already with her (Mamata Banerjee). There is no need for me to join.”

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