Tackling a contradiction that has long dogged her, Mamata Banerjee declared today that she would fight alongside the Congress and the Left, regardless of her bitter rivalry with them in Bengal, to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the national election. “We will fight together with the Congress and the Left at the national level… we will fight in the state but not nationally,” said the Bengal Chief Minister, talking about collaborating with the Left for the first time ever.
Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress had ended the 35-year rule of the Left Front in Bengal. Her relation with the state leaders of the Congress — the party she broke away from in 1997 — is still acrimonious.
This morning, her party faced attack from senior state Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury over the Saradha Ponzi scheme, over which several of her party leaders had been arrested. The CBI investigation into the matter had triggered her latest flashpoint with the Centre.
Mr Chowdhury’s remarks were at the bottom of her heated exchange with the former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Parliament today. Ms Banerjee is known to share a good equation with the UPA chairperson. But today, when they met at Parliament’s Central Hall, the upset Chief Minister said, “We will remember”. “We are accusing each other but we are friends,” Sonia Gandhi had said.
The visit to parliament had taken up most the morning for the Trinamool chief. It ensured a musical chair at Jantar Mantar, where Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and A Raja were visiting at the time.
The two leaders had shared stage with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is hosting the rally, and addressed the people. Ms Banerjee reached only after they left.
Ms Banerjee’s announcement is part of the opposition’s efforts to put behind their differences and come together for a common cause.
Last year, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, the self-appointed interlocutor of the opposition, had turned his back to three decades of political rivalry and reached out to the Congress. In various media interviews, Mr Naidu has admitted that it was a political compulsion.
Though there has been no big announcement, the Congress and Mr Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, whose differences are well known, are also trying to work together.