JD(S) leader and former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy met West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Friday amid Opposition parties backing Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as an MP following the Surat court order in a ‘Modi’ surname defamation case.
Eyes on third-front efforts
The meeting between Kumaraswamy and Banerjee is part of a spree of parleys led by TMC chief exploring the possibility of a minus Congress alliance to fight the BJP. Within a week, she met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BJD president Naveen Patnaik.
TMC had also announced it would hold talks with other regional parties in their bid to take on the BJP in the crucial 2024 elections though it officially continued to deny any plans for a ‘Third Front’, separate from the Congress-led broad coalition.
Mamata’s meet with Kumaraswamy
According to sources in the TMC, the two leaders discussed the present political situation in the country and the way forward to fight and defeat BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha poll. “Former CM of Karnataka and @JanataDal_S leader Shri @hd_kumaraswamy called upon Hon’ble CM Smt @MamataOfficial today, in Kalighat, Kolkata,” the AITC tweeted.
According to TMC leaders, meetings with non-BJP and non-Congress leaders are part of the party’s efforts to cobble up an opposition unity with regional powers.
Kumaraswamy on his arrival at the airport had dubbed the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as Lok Sabha MP as “political vendetta of the BJP”.
He had also attended the meeting of opposition parties convened by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the city in January 2019 ahead of the Lok Sabha poll that year.
Naveen and Mamata’s meeting
On March 23, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee said they had resolved to make the federal structure of the country “strong and permanent”. The statement came after a much-awaited meeting of the two chief ministers held at the conclusion of Banerjee’s three-day visit to Odisha. Addressing reporters at the end of the meeting at Naveen Niwas — Patnaik’s residence — with Banerjee beside him, the Odisha CM said, “We resolved to make the federal structure of the country permanent and strong. There was no other political discussion.” Banerjee seconded Patnaik and said, “I strongly support what Naveen ji said and I appreciate this. We also discussed about democratic rights and the safety of the nation.”
However, speculation remained rife that the meeting was part of Banerjee’s plan to form an opposition front with regional players minus the Congress.
Rahul factor and Opposition consolidation
Opposition leaders including DMK leader and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, JMM chief Hemnt Soren, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar spoke out against the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as an MP.
The action against Gandhi is an occasion for “fight, not fright” and all parties opposed to the ruling BJP at the Centre must come together “without delay”, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said on Thursday.
In the coming days will show which way the opposition parties will move. Will they fight against BJP under one umbrella alliance led by Congress or the third front will be materialised. However, at the moment, alsomst all Opposition parties rallied behind the Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s issue. If the same trend continues, united Opposition may be formed to defeat BJP in Lok Sabha 2024 election.
(With PTI input)
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