Days after Karnataka assembly election results, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee said that regional parties should fight together wherever they are strong and they should support Congress where it's strong.
This rethink on part of Mamata, who has earlier been critical of Congress, comes within days of Congress party winning Karnataka assembly elections.
Of the 224-member Karnataka assembly, the Congress party won 135 seats and reduced the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to just 66 seats.
Mamata said that she supports Congress in Karnataka and would support it on the seats where it has a strong presence. However, she also said that the Congress party should also be considerate in its position. She pointed out that Congress opposes TMC in West Bengal.
Mamata's comments come at a time when Opposition leaders are working to stich a united front ahead of 2024 general elections when Prime Minister Narendra Modi would seek reelection for the second time. While the Congress party has said that it would be the fulcrum of any Opposition front, the regional parties have been skeptical of Congress.
What did Mamata Banerjee say?
Mamata said that regional parties should fight the BJP together wherever they are strong and should be supported.
Mamata cited several examples, such as of Samajwadi Party (SP)-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in Uttar Pradesh, Congress-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in Jharkhand, and Congress-DMK in Tamil Nadu. However, she also said that Congress should also be considerate of other parties.
NDTV quoted her as saying, "In this situation, Whoever is strong in some place, in their region, they should fight together. Let's take Bengal. In Bengal, we (Trinamool) should fight. In Delhi, AAP should fight. In Bihar, they are together. Nitishji (Nitish Kumar), Tejashwi (Yadav) and Congress are together. They will decide. I cannot decide on their formula. In Chennai, they (MK Stalin's DMK and the Congress) have a friendship and they can fight together. In Jharkhand also, they (JMM-Congress) are together and in other states also. So it is their choice."
#WATCH | Wherever a regional political party is strong there BJP cannot fight. The parties which are strong in a particular region should fight together. I am supporting Congress in Karnataka but it should not fight against me in Bengal: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee pic.twitter.com/wIazux6oKq— ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2023
Mamata said that while she supports Congress in Karnataka, it fights her in West Bengal.
"But they have to see that they have to support other political parties also. I support you for Karnataka but you are fighting against me every day. That should not be the policy. This is for everybody. If you want some good thing, then you have to sacrifice yourself also in some areas," said Mamata.
Mamata said that there are 200 seats where Congress is strong and she supports the party on these seats.
She said, "And wherever Congress is strong in their 200 seats or something, what we have calculated, let them fight and we will support them."
Mamata Banerjee proposed all-party meet
Last month, Mamata had proposed a meeting of all Opposition parties. She had proposed this at a meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janta Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Lately, Nitish has meeting Opposition leaders in what's understood to be attempts to build a coalition to counter BJP ahead of 2024 elections. He had met Akhilesh Yadav the same day he met Mamata. Those two meetings came within 12 days of him holding talks with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi.
At the time, PTI reported that analysts believe Nitish has started gearing up as a catalyst for unity after his Delhi meeting as he believes that without Congress as the centre-piece an opposition front may not work. The Congress too has in recent months said the Grand Old Party would be the "fulcrum" of any Opposition alliance.
VIDEO | "All are together. All parties will work together to fight the BJP," says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in joint press conference with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. pic.twitter.com/CgC3JjUsOz— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) April 24, 2023