'Cadre' Mamata drafts in Congress with other Opposition to challenge BJP in 2024
Trashing her pre-2019 dream to build a federal front to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi politically, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who runs powerful regional satrap Trinamool Congress (TMC), preferred to keep herself low profile in her recently-concluded Delhi trip, where she met a number of Congress leaders besides two regional politicians with an aim to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2024 General Elections.
The experiment of the federal front is no stranger to the Indian politics.
Years after a dream of the Leftists to provide a third option to the people of the country derailed, Mamata, who had once called the "Third Front" a "tired front" in one television interview some time back in 2014, met a line of regional leaders before the 2019 General Elections to halt the Modi juggernaut.
Well, neither a third or federal front nor the United Opposition could set out for sailing in the backdrop of the nationalist agenda fuelled by the BJP post-Balakot airstrike as Modi stormed back to power in 2019 with even a bigger majority.
Modi government's alleged COVID-19 mismanagement, economic crisis, job losses, fuel price hike along with the TMC's resounding victory in West Bengal that led the BJP to bite the dust has at least reignited Mamata's aspirations to return to Delhi politics but on a larger scale.
Though Mamata, a seven-term Lok Sabha MP and a former cabinet minister in the Centre, like a seasoned politician never expressed her wish to become the Prime Minister, her party leaders are just falling short of uttering it.
Mamata Banerjee greets Sonia Gandhi (Image Credit: UNI)
Mamata's hobnobbing with the Congress was noticed from day one in the monsoon session of Parliament this year when the grand old party and its strongest offshoot attempted to corner the BJP inside and outside the floor.
The Congress-TMC closeness, though both do not meet eyes in West Bengal owing to political limitations, further intensified in Mamata's Martyrs' Day rally on July 21.
In a significant step, Congress sent at least two emissaries including key leader P Chidambaram virtually to the TMC's largest political event of the year.
Though the so-called United Opposition showed cracks when Congress top leader Rahul Gandhi led all anti-Modi leaders sans ones from the TMC in a protest outside Parliament Wednesday, Mamata diluted any speculation by meeting Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul later.
On Mamata's shift in political stance between 2018 and 2021, political analyst Amulya Ganguli says, "Everybody says the Congress should be in the opposition group against the BJP. Sharad Pawar has also said the Congress should play the pivotal role. So it is not surprising that Mamata Banerjee should want the Congress to be in the united Opposition. That's why she went to meet Sonia Gandhi."
When asked about her role in collaging a united opposition, Mamata, who decimated the BJP months ago, said, "All should unite to defeat the BJP. I am nobody alone. All should be together. I am a cadre and a street person."
Mamata Banerjee after meeting with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi (Image Credit: UNI)
The hobnobbing between the two parties were also evident in the words of senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, who after meeting Mamata, said, "She (Mamata) has the power to defeat the BJP."
Commenting on Mamata's latest Delhi trip where she met mainly the Congress leaders from the Opposition camp, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli told IBNS, "Political leaders are free to travel. It's a free country and everyone is entitled to decide what their future aspirations should be. But 2024 is very far."
"With regards to any political parties which wish to come together, that is their individual call. But the logical call people would ask is who is the leader, the ideology they pursue, their agenda, their stand on various issues and the glue that brings them together besides the desire for coming together," he added.