In a significant departure from her third front push, in which the participation of Congress was uncertain, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she wanted to take along everyone, including the Congress, in her fight against the BJP.
She held meetings through the day — including those with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and disgruntled BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha.
Describing her meeting with Sonia as a “political” one, Banerjee accused the BJP of running a government of “arrogance and revenge.”
“The country wants us to fight together… to fight them (BJP) together with the same formula. Each of us should fight where we are strong… Mayawati-Akhilesh in Uttar Pradesh, Lalu Prasad in Bihar, Congress should win Karnataka,” Banerjee said after the meeting with Sonia. She was accompanied by Trinamool Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien, Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee and West Bengal minister Arup Biswas.
A day after arriving in Delhi on a three-day tour, the Trinamool chief met representatives of several opposition parties as well as NDA ally Shiv Sena and TDP in Parliament on Tuesday. However, she did not hold any meeting with the Congress, leading to speculation that the principal opposition party at the Centre might not be in the Trinamool’s plans.
The meeting with Sonia will dispel some of the doubts. Trinamool sources said the key to the dynamics of any alliance will be decided by the three upcoming polls this year — Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The last two will vote later this year and both have BJP governments.
Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha and former health minister Shatrughan Sinha — at one point her colleagues in the NDA cabinet of Atal Behari Vajpayee — also called on Banerjee together at the South Avenue residence of her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. Later Arun Shourie, who too had been her colleague, dropped in. On the reason of the visit, Yashwant Sinha said: “The country needs to be saved and her role in this is commendable. We have come to congratulate her. She is a former colleague and in her efforts she has our full support and cooperation.”
Shatrughan Sinha described Banerjee as a “matchless personality”. Asked why they had decided to go against their own party, he said: “We are pro-nation not anti-party. The party is bigger than the leader and the nation is bigger than the party.”
Kejriwal met the Trinamool leader in the evening following which Banerjee met Sonia at the latter’s residence. She also spoke to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on the phone.