In a bid to forge opposition unity, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and stressed the need for the Congress to be part of a front to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Trinamool Congress leader also met a host of other opposition leaders during her two-day visit to the national capital.
Banerjee had on Tuesday met Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar and leaders of some regional parties, including National Democratic Alliance partner Shiv Sena, to explore possibilities of a “federal front” to take on the BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls.
Banerjee on Wednesday met disgruntled BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, besides having a telephonic conversation with Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, with whom she talked of a “one-to-one” fight in states.
Wednesday’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi took place at her 10, Janpath residence and lasted for around 20 minutes.
During the meeting, the two leaders are understood to have discussed the present political scenario and the strategy to defeat the BJP in the next general elections and in various state elections due this year.
“I told Sonia ji, we want the Congress to be part of the united opposition,” Banerjee told reporters after the meeting.
She also said that she wanted the Congress to win Karnataka, as it was strong there.
“I am 100 per cent sure, when there is one single fight, the BJP will go,” she said.
“I have told Sonia ji what the country wants is that there should be a state-wise one-to-one fight against the BJP. Whichever party is the strongest in the state, that party should contest in that state against the BJP.
“I have also discussed this issue with Sonia ji. The talks which we are having with the regional parties, we are trying to work together....We want the Congress also to be part of that,” Banerjee said.
After Wednesday’s meeting, she also alleged that in a bid to “finish democracy in the country, the BJP is spreading atrocities”.
“Apart from political vendetta, the BJP does not do anything for the people of the country,” she claimed.
The West Bengal chief minister said the Congress should also help the “one-on-one fight” in the states and added that parties which had an alliance with the Congress would carry on with the tie-ups.
“Lalu (Yadav) ji and Sharad (Yadav) ji have an alliance with the Congress. Their alliance will continue,” she said, adding that the opposition party which was the strongest in a state should be supported by the others to oust the BJP.
Banerjee’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi was earlier scheduled for on Tuesday, but could not take place as the UPA chairperson was indisposed.
The chief minister is in Delhi to hold talks with various parties in a bid to form a united front against the BJP and bring together opposition parties on one platform.
The TMC leader had met many opposition leaders on Tuesday, but had not met any leader of the Congress.
Banerjee, who has been meeting leaders of various opposition parties and some allies of the ruling BJP here, also held discussions with former Union minister Arun Shourie.
After the meeting, Shourie, who has been critical of the Modi government, said the Tranamool Congress chief’s theory of putting up a one-on-one fight against the BJP in every state was the right path to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“If the one-on-one formula is implemented, the opposition will be able to corner 69 per cent of votes,” Shourie said.
Though Yashwant Sinha did not clarify on whether he or Shatrughan Sinha would join a united force against the BJP, he said, “Mamata is our old cabinet colleague. Her personality is known to everyone. The role she has taken to save the country is appreciable. In future also, we will support her.”
The Trinamool Congress supremo sought to rally the regional parties against the NDA, even as Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who mooted a non-Congress, non-BJP coalition in national politics, said the alternative being proposed by him would be a “people’s front of India”.
The BJP was critical of Banerjee, with Union minister Prakash Javadekar slamming her for the incidents of violence during Ram Navami processions in West Bengal.
Javadekar alleged that while her state was “burning”, she was “doing politics” in the national capital.
Peaceful Ram Navami processions were attacked by Trinamool Congress “thugs” in the state, Javadekar told reporters here.
“Bengal is burning and Mamata is doing politics in Delhi. It is like Nero fiddled while Rome was burning,” he said and showed pictures of alleged violence that took place during the processions.