By Express News Service

GUWAHATI:  Activist and Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi on Sunday said an effort was being made to form a confederation of regional parties led by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to try and oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP from power in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“Our interest is that all regional political parties in the country should unite, form a confederation, project Mamata Banerjee as its leader, unseat the fascist and communal Narendra Modi and elect a new PM in 2024,” Gogoi, who recently visited Kolkata, told journalists in Guwahati.

“We hope the confederation of regional parties will be formed as early as possible,” he said.

The Raijor Dal MLA said the formation of a confederation of regional parties will also help federalism. 

“The people of Assam have been fighting for federalism and a federal structure from before independence,” Gogoi said.

He disclosed that West Bengal CM had made an offer to him to join the TMC and merge Raijor Dal with it.

“Mamata didi had invited me for a discussion. Their proposal was that Raijor Dal and I join the TMC at the earliest and become the TMC’s Assam unit president,” the activist said. He said his party would discuss the proposal and take a call.

“We thank Mamata didi that she invited us three times. Our leaders already had discussions with TMC leaders,” he added.

“We aim to form a confederation of regional forces and project Mamata Banerjee as its leader to remove the Narendra Modi government from power in 2024,” he told reporters.

Gogoi claimed that Banerjee has assured him of the TMC Assam unit president’s post if Raijor Dal is merged with the ruling party in West Bengal.

He said that three rounds of talks between the TMC and Raijor Dal over the issue have already taken place, with the legislator visiting Kolkata for discussions.

Assam TMC president Gopinath Das said that the talks were held in the West Bengal capital.

“There were no talks with Raijor Dal in Assam. Madam (Mamata Banerjee) is pursuing it,” he said.

The TMC does not have any MLA in the Assam assembly at present.

Gogoi said that Raijor Dal’s efforts to form a confederation of regional parties is in keeping with its belief in the federal structure and the need to strengthen it.

The Sibsagar MLA scripted history this year by becoming the first person in Assam to win an assembly election from behind the bars.

Jailed since December 2019 for his alleged role in violent anti-CAA stir in the Assam, Gogoi walked out free on July 1 this year after a special NIA court cleared him of all charges.

Meanwhile, Raijor Dal on Sunday held a meeting with Congress on forming an alliance to contest the upcoming Assembly by-polls and decided to jointly protest against “anti-people” policies of the BJP-led Assam government.

Congress working presidents Rana Goswami and Jakir Hussain Sikdar visited the Raijor Dal’s headquarter in Guwahati to meet Gogoi and other senior leaders.

“We decided to fight together from a single platform against all anti-people policies of the BJP. We will work together on any social problem,” Goswami told PTI after the meeting held on Sunday evening.

The Congress wants to have a long-lasting relationship with the Raijor Dal, at least till the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the 2026 Assam Assembly elections, he added.

“We also spoke about forming an alliance for the upcoming Assembly byelections. This is just a preliminary meeting and several more rounds will take place. The final decision of an alliance will be taken by the top state and central leaders,” Goswami said.

By-elections are required in five Assembly seats due to deaths and resignations of legislators.

Before the Assembly polls held earlier this year, both the parties had called for a united platform of all opposition parties to defeat the BJP, but Raijor Dal expressed its reservation in joining the Grand Alliance due to the presence of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in it.

Commenting on Sunday’s meeting, Gogoi said that the Raijor Dal is ready to join the Grand Alliance provided the AIUDF exits the grouping.

“Like the BJP, the AIUDF is also a communal force. Our stand is clear that we will not be in a platform where AIUDF is present,” he told reporters.

Gogoi, the MLA of Sivasagar constituency, said that the Congress and the Raijor Dal must be united in order to defeat the BJP in the byelections.

The Congress, which was in power for 15 years in Assam since 2001, formed a ‘Grand Alliance’ with AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), RJD, Adivasi National Party (ANP) and the Jimochayan (Deori) Peoples Party (JPP) to fight the BJP-led NDA in the Assembly election this year.

In the 126-member Assam Assembly, the BJP bagged 60 seats, while its allies AGP won nine and UPPL six.

In the opposition camp, the Congress won 29, AIUDF 16, BPF four and CPI(M) got one seat.

The Raijor Dal secured one seat, Sivasagar, as Gogoi won as an Independent.

One MLA each of United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has died, while two Congress legislators have resigned to join the BJP.

Former chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who joined the Union Cabinet as a minister, is yet to submit his resignation paper in the Assembly, but is likely to do so in the coming days.

(With PTI Inputs)