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Congress shouldn’t view itself as boss of non-BJP parties: Trinamul

Mamata Banerjee meets Akhilesh Yadav, set to call on Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik next week

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 18.03.23, 02:51 AM
Mamata Banerjee  receives Akhilesh Yadav at her residence in Calcutta on Friday.

Mamata Banerjee receives Akhilesh Yadav at her residence in Calcutta on Friday. The Telegraph

The Trinamul Congress said the Congress shouldn’t view itself as the boss of non-BJP parties as Mamata Banerjee on Friday hosted Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav at her home here amid her plan to call on Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik next week.

Akhilesh had recently declared that the SP would maintain equidistance from the BJP and the Congress. Albeit sans finality, Trinamul’s leader in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay essentially made the same point on Friday.


The Calcutta North MP told a news conference that the Congress ought not to view itself as the “big boss” of the non-BJP space and it was in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interest to keep the focus of the saffron attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, thereby establishing him as the principal face of the Opposition.

“We are not talking about a Third Front at the moment,” Bandyopadhyay said in response to a question while the Mamata-Akhilesh meeting was underway.

“Our supreme leader (Mamata) would conduct deliberations with regional parties that are powerful in their own regions to draw up a strategy to take on the BJP in the general election next year,” he added.

Bandyopadhyay said Trinamul was keen to bring onto the same platform 15 parties that had left the NDA over differences with the BJP.

After meeting Akhilesh, Mamata would visit Odisha next week and call on chief minister Patnaik there on March 23, before a trip to Delhi. The SP leader was in Calcutta for his party’s national executive meeting over the weekend.

“This we tell you with a fairly open mind that we are likely to go our own way, keeping distance from both the Congress and the BJP…. The Congress should not view itself as the big boss of the Opposition,” said Bandyopadhyay, adding that both in the panchayat polls in Bengal this year and in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, Trinamul would show the nation its ability to single-handedly keep the BJP out of this state.

On his arrival in the city, Akhilesh tore into the BJP-led Centre over its alleged misuse of central probe agencies to harass voices of dissent and the Opposition.

“The ED, the CBI, and the Income Tax authorities are now the BJP’s political weapons…. The BJP sends these agencies to hound and harass those Opposition parties that it feels threatened by,” said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, known for cordial ties with Mamata.

In response to a question, he said: “Our (the SP’s) stand right now is of equidistance from the BJP and the Congress.”

At the Trinamul news conference later, Bandyopadhyay said his party was unsure of what the Congress was up to as an Opposition party across the country.

“In Bengal, the Congress, the BJP, and the CPM are working together to harass Trinamul and create obstacles for our state government,” said the Calcutta North MP.

He said the BJP’s attempts to keep Rahul centred over his comments made in the UK suggests the saffron intent to have people identify him with the entire national Opposition.

“The BJP wants to portray Rahul Gandhi as the face of the Opposition so that it is easier for Narendra Modi to fight the next elections,” added Bandyopadhyay.

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