A new, strong opposition alliance headed by those working on the field would emerge soon, the All India Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee has said. In an indirect reference to the Congress and its leadership, she alleged they were not fighting the BJP-led government as strongly as they should. The United Progressive Alliance didn’t exist anymore, she said.
“What is the problem if I keep meeting people in the country? There are some people and parties who do nothing. Half the time is spent abroad. Nothing is done,” she said in a not-so-veiled attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who regularly goes abroad. Banerjee’s dig at Gandhi was at a civil society meeting attended by former judges, actors and comedians who discussed with her the need to counter the BJP.
Banerjee’s narrative was that the Congress was moribund and didn’t have a strategy to counter BJP and even ignoring parties trying to counter the BJP. For instance, during the civil society meeting, she said that she had asked the Congress to have an advisory council of civil society members who could give suggestions to the opposition. “I told the Congress that we should have an advisory team; they didn’t listen to me. I told them six times to form such a committee. We could have former judges and lawyers who could argue for bail for those imprisoned,” Banerjee said. In response to a question she said that AITC “will fight the BJP where the Congress is not going to”. Banerjee said her party would not fight the UP polls as regional parties were fighting strongly against the BJP.
After her meeting with NCP leader Sharad Pawar, she said, “considering the situation today, and fascism, no one can fight alone… We need a strong alternative and if someone is not ready to fight, then what can be done? We want everyone to come out on the field.”
Later speaking to journalists, along with Banerjee, Pawar said, “her intention was for like-minded parties to come together at the national level. We need a platform of collective leadership which is strong and can be relied upon by the people of the country. This thinking is not for today, but for the 2024 polls. We had a positive discussion.” On who will lead such a coalition, he said the leadership issue was ‘secondary’.
Banerjee, in her interaction with the civil society, said the BJP government at the Centre had been victimising a lot of people and that actor Shah Rukh Khan whose son Aryan Khan was recently arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau was also victimised.