Putting at rest all speculation about her growing closeness with the Narendra Modi-led BJP, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee expressed her support for Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Sunday to stall the advance of the saffron party in eastern India.
With three rounds remaining of the five-phase Bihar polls, Mamata took to Twitter and said, “Request you all in #Bihar to please vote to re-elect @NitishKumar-ji as CM for greater need of our country & development in state.” The third phase of polling in Bihar is scheduled for Wednesday. The last two phases are on November 1 and 5. The results will be out on November 8.
Mamata’s tweet sparked rumours about the chances of her being part of a future grand alliance against the BJP that may include the JD(U), RJD and the Congress. Where that would leave Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, with whom she had been hobnobbing for months now, remains to be seen.
Questions also remain about the chances of the CPI(M) — anathema for Mamata — having some arrangement with such an alliance. Mamata stood by the AAP to oppose the BJP before the Delhi Assembly polls and has since remained firm in her support for Kejriwal.
Her tweet was also important in the context of Bengal. Both the CPI(M) and the Congress were alleging that Mamata had struck a secret alliance with Modi to “save” some of her party leaders and ministers from the CBI dragnet in connection with the Saradha scam. It will now be difficult for them to continue that line of argument. Moreover, with the Bengal polls due in 2016, it will be a challenge for the Congress to oppose Mamata while distancing itself from the CPI(M).