West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, after a brief meeting with her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, said that she has “no ego” regarding a grand alliance of anti-BJP parties and that it’s going to be the people vs BJP in next year’s general elections. She claimed she has earlier too said that she has no objection to all like-minded Opposition parties getting together for the big electoral battle.
“I have made just one request to Nitish Kumar. Jayaprakash (Narayan) ji’s movement started from Bihar. If we have an all-party meeting in Bihar, we can then decide where we have to go next. But first, we have to give a message that we are united. I have said earlier, too, that I have no objections. I want BJP to become zero. They have become a big hero with the media’s support and lies,” she said while addressing the media with the two top Bihar leaders by her side.
On the proposed one-seat-one-candidate formula floated by Nitish Kumar’s party, she said that “if thought, vision, and mission are clear, there will be no issues”.
Calling it a “very positive discussion”, Nitish Kumar said they discussed making all preparations ahead of the upcoming elections.
“Those who are ruling now, have nothing to do. They are just doing their own publicity. Nothing is being done for the nation’s development,” he said.
On a mission to bring together opposition parties who have no love lost for Congress, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier today reached the West Bengal state secretariat in Kolkata to meet Ms Banerjee in his push to forge a grand alliance against the BJP. Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav are later scheduled to fly to Lucknow to meet Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Both Trinamool Congress and SP have not been keen on sharing space with the grand old party.
Akhilesh Yadav has made it clear that he has no interest in a front that includes the Congress — attending a few meetings with like-minded opposition parties, including Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. He had not pulled punches either after crashing in the 2017 polls, which he contested in alliance with the Congress.
Mamata Banerjee hasn’t held back from attacking Congress either, especially since the party snatched an assembly seat from her party in the recent by-elections in the state.
Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP recently precipitated a rare show of unity across Opposition parties, after which efforts to unite against the BJP picked pace with the meeting between Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, and Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav. Nitish Kumar has also met with Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party boss Arvind Kejriwal, one of the harshest critics of Congress, who conceded that it was “extremely necessary” that the entire opposition and the country came together and change the government at the Centre.
Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) has proposed what they call the “Nitish formula” of opposition unity, sources say.
“The only way to win against Narendra Modi is to follow a one-against-one policy in 2024, which means one seat, one candidate from the opposition against the BJP candidate,” said senior Janata Dal-United leader KC Tyagi.
The one-against-one formula to prevent a split in the opposition vote, which worked in 1977 and 1989, is being seen as a potent weapon against the BJP and PM Modi’s election juggernaut, though there’s not much confidence that the rival opposition parties can agree on a truce.