The Telegraph
Saturday , August 30 , 2014
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Heat is on: Didi can think the unthinkable

Calcutta, Aug. 29: Mamata Banerjee today desisted from rejecting outright the possibility of “thinking” about a grand alliance that might include the CPM to take on the BJP.

“If the situation warrants, we will definitely think about it. I don’t think anyone is untouchable in politics,” Mamata said in an interview to Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta in response to a question on an alliance.

The Left was not part of the question yet. The context was the recent bypolls in Bihar, where sworn enemies Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar joined hands with the Congress to take on the BJP alliance. The “secular” alliance won six seats against the NDA’s four.

“I congratulate Laluji, Nitishji and the Congress for the results. Had they joined hands before the Lok Sabha polls, they would have won all the seats or maximum number of seats,” Mamata said.

She was asked about the possibility of a similar model in Bengal, which has also seen the rise of the BJP.

“We can always talk. In politics, doors for talks should never be closed…” Mamata said.

Does that mean an alliance with the CPM as well?

“I did not say that,” Mamata replied even before the question could be completed.

“But if there is a proposal, we will think over it. We will discuss in the party... I don’t hate Leftists,” she added.

This is the first time Mamata has made such a statement, although she had served fish fry to a Left delegation led by Biman Bose.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, she had tried in vain to float a federal front of regional parties — but without the Left — to take on both the Congress and the BJP.

Sources in the Trinamul expressed surprise at her reply today. “Earlier, she would have said a firm ‘no’ as the CPM has been her biggest enemy,” said a close aide. “But things have changed. The BJP seems to be taking the Opposition space here,” the aide added. The CBI is also turning up heat on the Saradha scandal.

CPM leaders were quick to blame Mamata for the rise of the BJP. “She was the first to get the BJP into Bengal when she joined hands with them in 1998. Even now, her politics of retribution is helping the BJP grow in the state,” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, the leader of the Opposition.

Rahul Sinha, the BJP state president, was all smiles: “There was a covert understanding among the Congress, Left and Trinamul…. Today, she admitted it and this will help us further.”