The idea of a non-Congress, non-BJP third front took baby steps forward on Wednesday, with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reaching out to the Janata Dal (United) and the Biju Janata Dal.
“I spoke to (Bihar CM) Nitish Kumar… I also spoke to (Odisha CM) Naveen Patnaik on the issue,” the Trinamool Congress chief, who pulled out her party from the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre in September last year, said.
“Nitishji is in agreement that it would be good if we come together and form a federal front. We will all talk (with regional parties) in different states,” she added after meeting JD(U) Rajya Sabha member KC Tyagi “on the subject” at the state secretariat. “A few days ago I had posted on Facebook asking for a non-Congress, non-BJP front. We are happy with the discussions.”
"I also spoke to Naveen Patnaik (Odisha chief minister) on the issue over phone today. When we talk again we will decide the venue where we will meet," Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, told reporters in Kolkata.
Banerjee has already had early discussions for a third front with former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, who quit the BJP in 2006 and formed the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik).
"We are happy. And, you know some days ago Babulal Marandi (JVM-P chief) came from Jharkhand to talk on this. Two or three other leaders came and talked with us," she said.
"We will talk on strengthening of the federal structure," the West Bengal chief minister said.
She said her Bihar counterpart agreed that formation of a federal front would be good for the country as well as states.
"Nitishji said 'we will be happy if we can do it with the objective of the common cause of the people'," she said.
On his part, Tyagi said, "You have heard that she has talked with Naveen Patnaik and Babulal Marandi. We are going to have our party meeting within two or three days. We will respond after that. But we are still part of NDA."
Stating that JD(U) had high regard for the Trinamool chief, he said, "Our leaders Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar have long association with Didi. Sharad Yadav had participated in a rally held by Didi at Jantar Mantar."
(With inputs from PTI)