Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Dilip Ghosh on Sunday backtracked from his statement made a day earlier in which he had suggested West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of having the quality of becoming the prime minister of the country. Calling it a joke, Ghosh said that his comments on Banerjee were made in jest.

Ghosh was quoted as saying, “On Saturday, when reporters asked me whether I would like to make any comment on Mamata Banerjee, I just extended my best wishes to her. Whatever I said about her prime ministership was just a joke. I was joking as it was her birthday.”

On Saturday, Ghosh triggered a fresh row by claiming that Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee has the best chance to become the first Bengali prime minister of the country. “If the selection was to be made from Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has the brightest chance. She is dreaming of becoming the next PM, and therefore I wish her luck. She needs to be in good health, as the fate of the state depends on her success,” said Ghosh, while extending birthday wishes to her. He, however, maintained that Narendra Modi will lead the country again in 2019.

He added, “We had Pranab Mukherjee from the state as the first Bengali to become President so now it’s time to have a Bengali as PM.”

While BJP became conceited after Ghosh’s remark as it is engaged in a major battle against the TMC over proposed Amit Shah’s proposed Rath Yatra in three districts of West Bengal, while the Congress saw Ghosh’s remark as some kind of an understanding between BJP and TMC. Abdul Mannan, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly said, “The statement reflects two things — a covert understanding between the BJP and the TMC, and that attempts to forge federal fronts are ploys to divide the opposition.”

Maintaining that she does not know the context in which Ghosh made the remarks, BJP Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal Roopa Ganguly said, “Narendra Modi is our PM. I will not accept Mamata Banerjee and the TMC, who have murdered our workers, to lead the country.