iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, September 28, 2012
Trinamool Congress now awaits a green signal from regional parties and chief ministers for an alternative front minus Congress and BJP. The party has already initiated back channel talks and looks forward to be joined by both UPA and NDA allies.   Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee in an interview on Wednesday that she would welcome a third front and is ready to talk to regional leaders. Parties like NCP, Janata Dal (United), AIDMK and BJD are on Mamata’s radar and TMC leaders believe that their leader may be a more trusted ally than Mulayam Singh Yadav. “I will not be able to comment on this right now. Let us see what happens in the future,” said Mukul Roy, general secretary of the party.

Mamata is expected to visit different states shortly holding public meetings against FDI in retail and other anti-people decisions. She will also hold a dharna near Parliament on October 1. The TMC chief is also expected to meet various chief ministers during her visits.

The Bengal chief minister has already talked with NCP leader Sharad Pawar on the sidelines of a meeting in Kolkata recently. “Our leader has made it clear that she is not against a third alternative. Congress is running a corrupt government and is on its way out. We are maintaining equidistance with Congress and BJP. We want to know what other chief ministers and regional party heads are thinking and we are ready to sit with them,” said Sultan Ahmed, party core committee member.

However, party sources said after withdrawal from UPA II, back channel talks have been held with regional parties to know what they have in mind. Senior party leaders claimed Mamata Banerjee’s image has not only been boosted among the masses but also with regional parties. Many of the regional party leaders including Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) praised her stand.

“On many platforms we interact with leaders of different regional parties. They have all appreciated our stand on FDI in retail and diesel price hike. Many of the UPA allies too are not happy with the Congress and their anti-people decisions. Our back channel talks are on,” said a senior leader of the party.

Senior party leaders believe that it is Mamata Banerjee, who has more acceptance in national politics than Mulayam Singh, who is known for his sudden decisions. Mulayam Singh has announced recently that he will initiate proceedings for a third front after the Lok Sabha polls, apart from showing his keenness for the Left.

The move for a national alternative follows Trinamool’s split with the Congress-led UPA.