A day after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee acknowledged her Tamil Nadu counterpart Jayalalithaa's leadership and indicated willingness to work with her, the AIADMK chief returned the gesture with a phone call to the Trinamool Congress boss.
There was no official confirmation of the call in Chennai but Trinamool sources said Jayalalithaa thanked Mamata for considering her an appropriate PM candidate and the two discussed the current political situation. “It was decided that both would consider the possibilities of a tie-up after the poll results,” a Trinamool leader said.
This new-found friendship comes close on the heels of the collapse of seat talks between the AIADMK and Left in Tamil Nadu.
Asked if she would support Jayalalithaa if she wanted to become PM, Mamata had told a news channel Thursday, “I have no problem. I don’t bother about the chair, I care for the people.” AIADMK leader C Ponnaiyan called the statement “a positive gesture for the national significance of our honourable chief minister”.
Sources close to Mamata told HT recent opinion polls had predicted the Trinamool would emerge the third largest party post-polls, making the Bengal CM much sought after by all parties. “It is obvious that Mamata Banerjee will be the person everyone wants to come close to... She will have a say in who becomes PM ,” said a Trinamool core committee member.
The Jaya-Mamata exchange also revived talk of the Federal Front, an initiative of the Bengal CM. The AIADMK-Left parting has dealt a blow to the Third Front — a Left initiative--and Trinamool leaders said they hoped other parties such as the BJD and JD(U) would follow in Jayalalithaa’s footsteps.
They said that by acknowledging Jayalalitha, Mamata had sent the message that she was prepared to sacrifice her own ambitions for the sake of the front. Mamata’s hunt for an ally, however, doesn’t stop with the AIADMK. Her party is already in talks with the Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress and is set to reach out to the Asom Gana Parishad.