West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked Nitish Kumar, her counterpart from Bihar to set up a meeting of all opposition parties in his home state to “prepare together” for the next Lok Sabha polls in 2024.
Kumar who met the TMC supremo along with his deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav for a nearly hour-long closed door meeting here as the two regional satraps sought to cobble together a coalition of opposition parties, described the discussions as positive.
I have made just one request to Nitish Kumar. Jayaprakash jis movement started from Bihar (socialist leader Jayprakash Narayan, popularly called JP, launched his `Total Revolution movement against misrule and corruption in 1974 from Patna). If we have an all-party meeting in Bihar, we can then decide where we have to go next, said Banerjee after the meeting, adding that the first meeting would be gharoa (informal) and issues like common manifesto etc., could come later.
I want BJP to become zero. They have become a big hero with the medias support, lies and fake videos, she claimed.
Earlier this month, in a bid to unite the opposition parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Kumar met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and its president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi earlier this month. Analysts believe Kumar has started gearing up as a catalyst for unity moves since that meeting in a bid to reconcile differing views. His is slated to meet Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav later this evening to discuss steps towards opposition unity. “It was a very positive discussion… Opposition parties need to sit together and strategise,” said Kumar after the meeting in the state secretariat Nabanna.
Banerjee came out of the meeting, stating, “We have to give the message that we are all together.” When queried about the involvement of the Congress in the opposition unity plans, she said “All are together the countrys people will fight against the BJP.” She added: I do not have a personal ego (on working with any party or leader). Nitish ji will be talking to other opposition parties as I am also talking to people”. Earlier, TMC had taken a stance of being equi-distant between Congress and the BJP. However, the stance has been shifting ever since Gandhi was disqualified from his Lok Sabha membership.
Banerjee has also held similar meetings with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik last month. The feisty TMC chieftain also met former Karnataka CM and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Last week, she had telephoned Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin and proposed that there be a meeting of all the opposition parties.
While details of the afternoon discussion held at Bengals state secretariat – `Nabanna – were scanty with the leaders preferring to speak on the broader consensus, sources said the two sides used the meeting to figure out how they would proceed in sewing together a coalition that would be workable ahead of the elections.
“Nothing is being done for Indias development, those ruling are only interested in their own advertisement,” claimed Kumar. Opposition leaders have been critical of rising unemployment, the falling value of the rupee and rising prices as well as the spending on government advertisements.
“We have to take the countrys history, its struggle for freedom to the next generation. Do not know if they (BJP) will alter the countrys history or do what next, we have to be alert,” he said, referring to the changes in school history textbooks. The BJP dubbed the meeting a “futile exercise” and asserted that such an “opportunistic alliance” would not yield any result.
“We had seen such efforts in 2014 and 2019, and the results are before us. These are futile exercises which will not yield any result. The people of this country trust the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said. SCH JRC PNT SOM NNJRC JRC
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