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Mamata and Opposition unity: Why Congress is important to her game plan

Key to Mamata Banerjee's plans of bringing the Opposition together will be the Congress. A source close to Mamata said: "It would be politically foolish to alienate them. A good Congress performance will serve the opposition's best interest.”

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | New Delhi | Updated: August 11, 2017 3:03 pm
mamata banerjee, opposition unity, sonia gandhi, congress, nitish kumar, jdu, politics, indian express news West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 10, Janpath in New Delhi. File/Express Photo by Renuka Puri

That Mamata Banerjee is looking to stitch together the Opposition ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is no longer a secret. Key to this, those close to her maintain, is the fact that she continues to be on “good terms with everyone” in the Opposition and even “some in the BJP”.

Before Nitish Kumar joined the BJP, the Opposition had been planning a massive farmers’ rally in New Delhi. A rally, sources maintained, had been Kumar’s idea to begin with. Now with the Bihar CM’s re-alignment with the BJP, Banerjee believes she is the only leader in the patchwork quilt of the fledgling Opposition alliance with “appeal with the masses” and a relatively uncontested home turf.

The numbers back the Trinamool Congress. After the BJP and the Congress, the Trinamool Congress has the second highest number of seats in Parliament – 34 in Lok Sabha and five in Rajya Sabha. Moreover, the party has 211 seats in the Bengal Assembly, followed by the Congress with 43.

The AIADMK is only slightly ahead (37 seats in Lok Sabha and 13 in Rajya Sabha), but their alliance with the BJP is growing more likely. So, Banerjee’s position in the Opposition space is growing stronger.

A senior Lok Sabha TMC MP said, “The idea isn’t about one party attempting to control the Opposition space. But the political space in the country is such that the Opposition parties need to unite. Some have already realised it, others are flocking to the BJP as a result.”

This, in fact, has been Banerjee’s clarion call from the very beginning – that Opposition parties need to come together, in order to “avoid the Centre’s bogey of investigating agencies and false allegations”.

Key to Mamata Banerjee’s plans of bringing the Opposition together will be the Congress. A source close to her explained, “There are parties which have their own respective spaces. But most of the states, which are poll bound before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, are ones where there is a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress. It would be politically foolish to alienate them. A good Congress performance will serve the opposition’s best interest.”

The BJP, meanwhile, believes that Banerjee’s decision to flock to the Congress and oppose the Centre has to do with not just her national ambitions, but also her growing unease with a resurgent BJP in Bengal.

“The state has seen a political shift. BJP’s space has increased and its visible on the ground. By hoping to ally with the Congress, she is hoping to strengthen her space in the state,” said one Bengal state committee BJP leader.

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  1. M
    Aug 12, 2017 at 8:25 pm
    Mamata Banerjee does have any national agenda and she is not interested in National politics. Her main ambition is to stay in power in WB by hook or crooks. Congress is not even qualified to become recognised opposition by holding less than 10 of total elected MPs of Upper house. Many of its leaders including its President facing serious charges. The present Congress party has no national agenda. The b ers created by its early leaders is getting exposed and public is facing severe effects of those b ers. So,all these opposition parties wanted to unite for just survival. If Mamata joins Sonia it is illigal and illogical aliens of both scamsters. Thier unity is like bitter guard laced with neem paste. Whatsoever idiologicle differences public have with Modi and BJP every appreciate his approach to problem and that is reason Mr.Modi is having more than 70 of popularity and transferency. Even after completing three years in office there are no irrigularity surfaced.
    1. Rk Pandey
      Aug 12, 2017 at 12:37 pm
      If corrupt Congress and Mamata join hands, it will be easier for BJP to discredit both as public perceptions for both are negative..
      1. Shahid Ullah
        Aug 12, 2017 at 9:25 am
        Presently there's a shortage of serious Politics.No incumbent to match MODI. In three years he has grabbed the country n NETAS of all Political parties in his command. Whether it's Lok or RAJYA SABHA everything is in His control.To take on him needs a super dynamic PERSON who has capacity to rule the country.Public has Faith in him n his work Which is open to all over the COUNTRY.
        1. Ram Deshpande
          Aug 12, 2017 at 8:42 am
          All opposition parties are handicapped since BJP is growing more and more leaving no scope for opposition.It Is the requirement of time that all opposition parties to unite.If they failed to unite their existence and party's existannce will no no more in the elections of 2019 fact it is time for opposition parties to work on certain good principles. All opposition parties have to leave false secularism first. They have to fight for all the people of all cast and creed.Their Leaders shall have to leave corruption at all levels.Positive thinking is necessary. Introduce young blood .High level thinking to bring our nation's prosperity must be given priority.All elements who are anti national shall be thrown away.People are quite wise now so do not take shelter of anti national elements at all e forward with good policies for poor people,Dalits and minorities who have faith in India's prosperity.We welcome this good move.Remember that opposition may not only opposition.Ram Deshpande.
          1. L
            Lalit doshi
            Aug 12, 2017 at 7:53 am
            There should one opposition part is a necessity for democracy of India Mamta is product from congress there should two party one bjp and congress for democracy of India congress should fight alone no matter they win or lose similar bjp
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