The Opposition parties will leave no stone unturned to garner support for Presidential election, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
In an exclusive chat with HT, she also “hoped” that the Opposition combination leads to an anti-BJP political formation for the 2019 general elections.
“We will talk to all possible sources of support. We will play our game and leave no stone unturned to reach out to other parties,” she said.
The term of President Pranab Mukherjee ends in July.
Banerjee, who had tried to rope in her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal in the Opposition camp, indicated she is in touch with her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, Shiv Sena and other parties.
The Congress-led Opposition is falling short by more than 1.5 lakh votes from the majority mark and it’s an uphill task for them to get their candidate elected.
The BJP-led NDA, which rules most of the bigger states and enjoys comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, appears to have an advantage in the election.
But Banerjee maintained, “I will be really happy if Pranab da (President Mukherjee) gets another term in office. It all however depends on the government to build a consensus around his name.”
Odisha’s ruling BJD has around 36,500 votes in the electoral college of the Presidential election while Sena has more than 25,800 votes.
“Naveen and I are old friends. I am talking to him for Presidential election,” said the Bengal CM.
She is the second Opposition leader after CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury to woo Patnaik for the upcoming poll for the country’s top office.
Banerjee’s Trinamool has the largest vote share after the BJP and the Congress in the electoral college with 64,500 votes. On Tuesday, she met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and pledged her support for an Opposition candidate.
Trinamool sources said that she has also spoken to Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. “On the day she spoke to Gandhi, same evening Didi had a long conversation with Mayawati,” claimed one of Banerjee’s trusted lieutenants. Banerjee is popularly referred to as Didi, meaning elder sister in Bengali.
When asked that if the positioning of different parties for the Presidential poll can lead to a potential alliance, Banerjee said, “I hope it leads to that situation. But right now, it’s too early to say. Parties should realize that the BJP is ruining the social and democratic fabric of our country.”
Even as her party fought against the Congress-Left combination in Bengal last year, Trinamool chief said, she maintains excellent equation with both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi.
“We know each other for a long time. Sonia ji knows me very well. Some state-level Congress leaders behave very badly but that doesn’t mean that my relationship with Gandhi family is spoiled,” she said.