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Behind TMC move to stay out of UP fray, bid to boost anti-BJP Oppn front

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Kiranmay Nanda conveyed the decision to media persons after a meeting with Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee at the latter's Kalighat residence on Tuesday.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata |
January 20, 2022 2:52:24 am
SP leader Kiranmay Nanda after meeting Mamata Banerjee at her Kalighat residence on Tuesday. (Express)

Unlike poll-bound Goa and neighbouring Mizoram and Tripura where it will electorally challenge the BJP as part of its plans to extend its national footprint with an eye on the next Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress has decided not to contest the ensuing Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. Senior Samajwadi Party leader Kiranmay Nanda conveyed the decision to media persons after a meeting with Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee at the latter’s Kalighat residence on Tuesday.

However, while opting out of the fray in UP, the ruling party in West Bengal has decided to extend its full support to the SP in a bid to unseat the BJP from power. The Trinamool chief will visit Lucknow and Varanasi, which also happens to be the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and put her political weight behind SP president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in virtual campaigning.

Speaking to reporters after holding talks with Mamata on Tuesday, Nanda said, “Though the meetings will be held virtually, Mamata Banerjee will be present alongside Akhilesh in Lucknow and Varanasi to boost the anti-BJP front and the fight against this communal force.”

Sources in the SP said that the party has already planned to circulate video clips of the joint virtual address by Mamata and Akhilesh across social media platforms in a bid to garner more public support for its campaign against the ruling BJP.

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To a question on why the Trinamool’s position with regard to UP is different from that of Goa, Tripura and Mizoram where it has set sights on contesting polls without allying with any other Opposition party, a senior TMC leader said, “We are trying to increase our strength in those states where we can fight and defeat the BJP. Our focus is on becoming the main Opposition party or alternative to the BJP in those states.”

Mamata emerged as a credible anti-BJP face after the Trinamool’s landslide win in the Assembly elections earlier this year. The party’s mouthpiece, ‘Jago Bangla’, even took pot shots at the Congress saying it had failed to put up a fight against the saffron party and Mamata was now the only leader capable of taking the fight to the BJP.

Trinamool national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was quoted as saying earlier, “Our main target is to defeat the BJP. We will take the BJP head on in places where we can, while in others, we will help the other parties fight them.”

Asked why the Trinamool didn’t consider going into a seat sharing arrangement with the SP despite having some prominent leaders in UP, a senior TMC leader considered close to Mamata since the inception of the party, said, “Mamata Banerjee is an astute leader who has already made her political presence felt in Delhi. She was elected a first-time MP in 1984, defeating heavyweight CPM candidate Somnath Chatterjee and also became a central minister in 1991. So, she knows how to play her cards in Delhi. By extending support to Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav for the UP polls, she is leaving the door open for a future alliance, if necessary, in Delhi to fight the BJP.”

“After her visit to Maharashtra a couple of months ago, Shiv Sena criticised her for her stand against the Congress. But she didn’t speak a single word against them. She has also maintained good equations with DMK chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin as well as her Andhra Pradesh counterpart and YSR Congress chief Jagan Reddy. She also has cordial ties with Kerala CM Pinnarayi Vijayan.

“If the Congress weakens further, we might have to fight the BJP in the next Lok Sabha election with the help of these regional parties. Hence, we have to maintain good relations with these parties in order for them to support Mamata Banerjee’s fight against the BJP. It is on this understanding that she has become vocal against the policies of the central government which are aimed at weakening the federal structure of our country,” the leader said.

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