Former union finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday said TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee should start a dialogue on the basis of her call to back the Congress in states where it is strong provided there is reciprocal support to regional parties for the 2024 general elections.
The veteran Congress leader said he welcomed the statement and was confident that an understanding could be arrived at through talks.
"I welcome Ms Mamata Banerjee’s statement. She must take it forward in talks with the Congress party. I am confident it is possible to reach an understanding," Chidambaram told PTI in a telephonic interview.
Banerjee earlier this month said her party will support the Congress where it is strong in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in return for reciprocal support to regional parties.
"Wherever the Congress is strong, let them fight. We will give them support, there is nothing wrong (in that). But they have to support other political parties also," Banerjee had said.
Chidambaram indicating that he was not averse to the idea, said that "(the) strongest non-BJP party in a state must be the lead party in an alliance in the election there".
"My personal view is that the strongest non-BJP party in a State must be the lead party in an alliance in the election in that State. The Congress is the strongest non-BJP party in many states. It is natural that strong state-specific parties will expect reciprocal support," he said.
Chidambaram also pointed out, "Unity among the non-BJP parties is a work in progress”.
He said that he believed the Opposition parties "are coming closer to each other, but there is some distance to go".
An opposition conclave is likely to be held on June 12 at Patna, according to sources.
Chidambaram said he expected the process to “gain speed in the next few months." Asked what could be the impact of the Congress' massive victory over the BJP in the recently-concluded Karnataka elections, the veteran leader said though it is "too early" to predict the outcome of the 2024 elections, he believed that it would have a "positive impact".
Referring to the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram, before next year's general elections, Chidambaram said the grand old party should make all efforts to carry on the winning momentum that started in Karnataka.
"It (Congress' win in Karnataka) will certainly have a positive impact. However, it is too early to say what will be the outcome of the 2024 general election, " he said, adding “please remember that there are five state elections this year before the Lok Sabha election. I can see the renewed energy and enthusiasm of the ordinary Congress workers after the Karnataka victory. That is a good augury".
Talking about the row over the Central ordinance to control appointments and transfer of bureaucrats in Delhi, Chidambaram described the matter as "serious" and said that it is an attempt to "overreach the Apex court and the issue is going to the root of the federal structure".
"Article 239AA of the Constitution (on the powers of the state legislature) has been interpreted by two Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court in 2018 and 2023. That is the law of the land. Many legal scholars view the Ordinance as a clumsy attempt to avoid and overrule the judgments. It is a serious matter," the eminent lawyer said.
He, however, avoided replying to a question on what could be the strategy of the Congress on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal seeking support from all opposition parties against the Ordinance.
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