The curious case of Mamata Banerjee's new opposition front

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee might have talked a lot about the need for a new formidable opposition front without Congress Party to take on the BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha elections but her idea seems to be going a non-starter with a majority of UPA allies sounding unfavourable with the idea. The UPA allies in a good number feel that Mamata’s idea of forming a new political front of opposition parallel to UPA will ultimately benefit the BJP in the next 2024 LS elections if the idea is translated into reality.

Buoyed over the recent victory in state assembly elections, the TMC in what appears to be a meticulously chalked political strategy, has intensified the efforts to make its political presence felt in other states also. As part of a well-thought induction-cum-expansion spree, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee recently met many leaders of opposition in Delhi and Mumbai trying to take them in confidence on the necessity of forming a new political front of opposition against the BJP, excluding the Congress Party. As part of this campaign to create an atmosphere conducive to the creation of a new opposition front, she termed the UPA as non-existent also.

Senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP of Shiv Sena Sanjay Raut, speaking to this newspaper, said no political front of opposition can succeed in defeating the ruling BJP without the Congress Party as it is only the national party with a political presence in many states.

“Whatever Mamata Banerjee ji has said as a responsible and respectful politician, would have been her own thoughts or perceptions. The Shiv Sena want all opposition parties together to take on the BJP”, Raut said. He categorically said that two fronts in opposition would not be good for the unity of opposition against the ruling BJP. The Shiv Sena has already made its stand clear through a write–up in its mouthpiece ‘Saamna’  that those who don’t think of going with the Congress-led opposition would be akin to strengthening the BJP and the ‘fascist forces’. “It would be impossible to defeat the BJP without Congress Party and the ShivSena has never thought of it,” he said.

The RJD, which is one of the bigger allies of Congress-led UPA, echoed the same sentiment upon being asked whether it would like to join, if a new political front of opposition is formed by Mamata Banerjee, excluding Congress Party. “The RJD has more often than not made its stand clear on this issue. We can’t even think of excluding the Congress Part from UPA or going into any new political front of opposition formed without Congress Party”, RJD spokesperson Chitaranjan Gagan.

He said: “How can one leave the Congress Party in opposition, which gives direct fight to the BJP on 200 Lok Sabha seats in the country? It sounds a bit impossible to an ally of UPA like us”, he said. Earlier, talking to this newspaper RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav had also said that Sonia Gandhi was requested by him to call the meeting of all opposition leaders for strengthening opposition unity against the BJP. The NCP, headed by Sharad Pawar, which is power in Maharashtra along with the Congress Party, has already dismissed the idea of forming a new front of opposition sans Congress Party. National spokesperson of NCP Nawab Malik recently told the media that the Congress Party has a Pan-India presence and can be important for the opposition. The NCP leader further stated that no united front of opposition can be formed without Congress Party.