West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that the United Progressive Alliance did not exist any longer, ANI reported. She was speaking to reporters after meeting Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar at his home in Mumbai.
Responding to a reporter who asked if an Opposition alliance could be formed without the Congress, Banerjee said “a strong alternative” was needed to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power.
“[We] cannot do anything about those who can’t fight,” said the Trinamool Congress leader. “Sharadji is the seniormost leader and I came to discuss our political parties. I agree with whatever Sharadji said.”
Another reporter then asked Banerjee if Pawar should be made the chairman of the UPA.
To this, Banerjee replied: “What UPA? There is no UPA now.”
Meanwhile, Pawar said that Banerjee’s intention was to set up a collective leadership. He said that all the Opposition parties were looking at the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“We have to provide a strong alternative to leadership,” he said. “Our thinking is not for today, but for election. This has to be established and with that intention, she has visited and had a very positive discussion with all of us.”
When asked about the Congress being part of the Opposition alliance, Pawar said that all parties that against the BJP were welcome to join.
Banerjee is on a three-day visit to Maharashtra since Tuesday. Earlier, she met Maharashtra minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and party leader Sanjay Raut in Mumbai.
“We welcome her to Mumbai and Maharashtra,” Thackeray had said after meeting Banerjee, according to ANI. “There has always been a friendship. We had met her even 2-3 years back when she visited Mumbai. We came to carry forward that friendship. We discussed many issues but we came here to welcome her to Mumbai.”
Several Opposition parties are exploring ways to stitch up an alliance against the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. In June, Pawar had said that the Congress cannot be left out of an alternative front if it is formed.
Reacting to Banerjee’s statement on Wednesday, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said that it would be dream to defeat the BJP without his party.