West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress
(TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee
on Wednesday met United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
and made it clear that the Congress
was a must for any one-on-one fight with the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), and that the Opposition party could not be excluded from any anti-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
The view is that parties dominant in a state will take the lead in putting up a one-to-one fight against the ruling alliance in the general elections 2019.
Banerjee also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and received the backing of BJP rebels Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, and Shatrughan Sinha.
Meanwhile, the BJP hit out at the TMC supremo over incidents of violence during the Ram Navami processions in West Bengal. Amid all this, Banerjee's proposed federal front seems to be taking shape.
Banerjee had been camping in New Delhi for two days as she made efforts to forge a broad coalition of political forces for a one-on-one fight with the BJP. The TMC chief
drove to the 10 Janpath residence of Sonia Gandhi
and inquired about her health and discussed the political situation. The West Bengal Chief Minister reiterated the need to have "one-on-one" fights to defeat the BJP in the general elections 2019.
Meanwhile, hitting back at the TMC supremo over incidents of violence during the Ram Navami processions in West Bengal, the BJP said that while the West Bengal Chief Minister's state was "burning", she was "doing politics" in the national capital. Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar
blamed the TMC for the ruckus created in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas that claimed one life and injured a police officer.
Not limiting her opposition to the Narendra Modi
government to politics, Mamata Banerjee
also strongly opposed the Centre's move to disinvest its stake in Air India, and TMC leader Derek O'Brien questioned the decision.
On the political front, while Kejriwal, who met the TNC supremo for about half an hour, did not reveal the details of the meeting to the media, the BJP rebels expressed their support to Banerjee's endeavours.
Here are the top 10 developments around Mamata Banerjee's efforts to forge a political alliance including the Congress and AAP against the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections 2019:
2) Mamata Banerjee says Congress needed for a one-on-one fight with BJP: Mamata Banerjee
on Wednesday made it clear that the Congress cannot be left out from an anti-BJP alliance
in the Lok Sabha polls 2019 in which parties that are dominant in a state will take the lead in putting up a one-on-one fight against the BJP. Banerjee, who had been camping in the national capital for the past two days, drove to the 10 Janpath residence of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
and inquired about her health. The two leaders discussed the political situation in the country.
3) Mamata Banerjee says she's always had a 'good relationship' with Sonia:
Praising Sonia Gandhi, Banerjee said that the UPA Chairperson is a senior leader of the country and that she continues to play a role in its politics. "There has always been a good relationship. Whenever I come to Delhi, I always meet her. I came to see her. She is fine now," said Banerjee.
"I told her that in 2019 elections there should be one-to-one (contest) from everywhere. In all states those parties which have stronghold in their own area they should fight from there," said the TMC supremo, adding, "We want Congress
to be with us. Congress
should also help in this one-to-one fight. We have spoken to other parties. All states regional parties, in a kind of conclave, should work together."
Banerjee said that the BJP should be voted out of power in the country and that it would be defeated if Opposition parties come together. "BJP will be removed only if there is one-to-one (contest). I am 100 per cent sure. We want that whichever party is stong in a state, they should fight one-is-to-one to defeat the BJP," added the TMC chief.
Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha
met Banerjee along with BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha.
They said that they came to meet the TMC supremo because there was a need to save the country. "We worked together for a long time in the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government and you are all familiar with her personality," he said. "The role she has played in this direction is admirable. We came to thank her and she should continue discharging the role strongly in the future. She has our full support and cooperation," Yashwant Sinha
Shatrughan Sinha, for his part, said that Banerjee was a mass leader who was connected to the grassroots. "We are with her in her struggle for the country. Nation is bigger than the party. All this work is not anti-party but pro-nation. We have come to give her support for the sake of the country," he said.
7) Shourie hails Mamata, says Modi is 'very tired': Shourie hailed Banerjee's push for a one-on-one contest
against the BJP across states in the 2019 elections. "If this one-to-one formula is adopted, the Opposition parties start with 69 per cent of the votes. Because even at the height of his popularity, Modi got only 31 per cent of the votes," he said.
Supporting the TMC supremo, Shourie said that coordination in each state should be left to the dominant leader's wisdom. "He should distribute tickets in such a way that everybody can come together in that particular region," Shourie said.
He also hoped that the principal Opposition party, the Congress, "will see the good sense for everybody to be together".
"Because if this momentum (of BJP's victories) is not broken, there will be no Congress
and nobody even among them personally in the second round," Shourie said.
Targeting the NDA government, Shourie said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi
had become "very tired now" and had lost his grip on the government. "It seems he is strong, but actually he is busy only with ceremonial stuff. And the government is paralysed," said Shourie, adding, "He is, as Mr Advani said, a very good event manager but he, it is turning out, is only an event manager. He is announcing schemes but not seeing what is happening to schemes. And the people are now seeing that his pronouncements and the results are very different."
Hours after the government released the preliminary information memorandum on the strategic disinvestment of the national carrier, Banerjee took to Twitter to express her objections. "I'm sorry to read in the media about the government inviting expression of interest for selling Air India, the jewel of our nation. We strongly oppose this and want this order to be withdrawn immediately," said the TMC chief.
"This government must not be allowed to sell our country," she added.
I am sorry to read in the media about the Govt inviting expression of interest for selling Air India, the jewel of our nation. We strongly oppose this and want this order to be withdrawn immediately. This Govt must not be allowed to sell our country
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 28, 2018
O'Brien also slammed the Centre's move. "The proposed disinvestment of Air India
is being examined by the panel. Stakeholders are being called. Views heard. Report still some time away. How come these moves from government?," he tweeted.
The proposed disinvestment of Air India is still being examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Transport Tourism & Culture. Stakeholders are being called. Views heard. Report still some time away. How come these moves from Govt? https://t.co/mnUYBEMyNf
— Derek O'Brien (@derekobrienmp) March 28, 2018
BJP leader Prakash Javadekar
told reporters that Ram Navami processions were attacked by TMC "thugs" in the state. "Bengal is burning and Mamata is doing politics in Delhi. It is like Nero fiddled while Rome was burning," he said, while displaying pictures of the alleged violence that took place during the processions.
Javadekar alleged that people associated with the TMC were not only targeting innocent devotees of Ram, but that they also attacked police personnel.
The government also took potshots at Congress
President Rahul Gandhi, saying that Parliament proceedings had slowed down since he became the chief of the Opposition party.
10) Mamata Banerjee meets NCP, Shiv Sena, DMK and TRS leaders:
Arriving in Delhi on Monday, Banerjee had met Nationalist Congress
Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and MPs of BJP's ally Shiv Sena on Tuesday. She had also met Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter K Kavitha and Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti besides MPs from Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
Watch: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pushes for federal front against Modi government
With agency inputs