Mamata to invite anti-BJP regional leaders to Kolkata rally, CPI(M) to skip
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that she would organise a rally in Kolkata after the monsoon in which she would invite leaders from several political parties that are opposed to the policies of the NDA government.india Updated: Jul 13, 2018 08:15 IST
Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that she would organise a rally in Kolkata after the monsoon in which she would invite leaders from several political parties that are opposed to the policies of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
Banerjee has been at the forefront of Opposition efforts to put together an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, triggering speculation that she is seeking to emerge as the face of the Opposition coalition.
“We will organise a rally at Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata once monsoon is over. Leaders of all anti- BJP forces will be invited,” Banerjee said at a government programme in Siliguri. She did not give a specific date.
But local Congress leaders and a top Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said they would skip any such rally organised by the TMC. The three parties are bitter regional rivals in Bengal, where the BJP has been making inroads of late.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in Kolkata that Banerjee was trying to project herself as the leader of the anti-BJP movement in India while her government was “murdering democracy” in Bengal. “Our stand is clear, we are anti-BJP in India and anti-Trinamool in Bengal,” he said.
A grand alliance cannot be formed before the elections, said Yechury. “Trinamool has no presence in other states. In Tamil Nadu, it will be AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and in Orissa, it will be BJD leading the Opposition. Right now the focus is on regional adjustments,” he said.
Congress MLA and Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Abdul Mannan, said the chief minister was caught in a “dichotomy of her own making”.
“On one hand, she is calling for unity of all anti-BJP forces. On the other hand, she is trying to destroy Congress in Bengal although our party is fighting the BJP nationally. We will not attend a rally organised by Trinamool,” he said.
But Banerjee and the Congress have shared the dais not long ago — at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in May. Yechury was present for the event, which was the largest public display of Opposition unity amid the ongoing efforts to build an understanding between parties.
“Mamata Banerjee is dreaming to upgrade herself from Bengal’s chief minister to India’s Prime Minister. She has every right to have such dreams. But the question is whether the regional parties, whom she is trying to unite, trust her or not,” said Sayantan Basu, general secretary of BJP’s state unit.