‘Equidistance from Congress and BJP’, says Samajwadi Party after meeting with Trinamool Congress
The party chief Akhilesh Yadav met West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee at her home. Banerjee’s party said she will meet Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik next week.
Key Opposition parties Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party on Friday gave feelers that they will not be forming alliances with the Congress for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported.
“In Bengal, we are with Mamata [Banerjee] Didi,” Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav told reporters after a meeting with the West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo at her home in Kolkata. “Right now, our stand is we want to maintain equidistance from both the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and the Congress.”
Yadav also said that in Uttar Pradesh, his party would contest next year’s elections with its existing allies. The Samajwadi Party had contested Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2022 with the Rashtriya Lok Dal and a slew of regional parties.
Following the meeting of Banerjee, Yadav and other leaders of the two parties, Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay told NDTV, that the West Bengal Chief Minister will meet her Odisha counterpart and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik on March 23.
“We will discuss this with other Opposition parties,” Bandyopadhyay said. “We are not saying it is a third front, but regional parties have the strength to take on the BJP.”
The development might come across as a jolt to the Congress which is looking to rally all Opposition parties together against the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, in terms of sheer numbers, it would not hurt the Congress too much.
Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha together account for 144 of the 543 seats in Lok Sabha. Of these, the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and the Biju Janata Dal had won 39 seats in the three states in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, while the Congress could manage to win only three. The BJP won a total of 87 seats in these states.
The Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress would be hoping for a better tally in next year’s General Elections if they could replicate their performance in Assembly elections held in the two states since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
On Saturday, both Samajawadi Party and the Trinamool Congress were vocal in their criticism of the Congress as well as the BJP. Leaders of the two parties accused the BJP of weakening democratic institutions of the country and misusing central agencies to target its political opponents.
Besides, Trinamool Congress MP Bandyopadhyay also said that the Congress should not see itself as the “big boss” of the Opposition.
“Rahul Gandhi made comments abroad and BJP will not let parliament function till he apologises,” he told reporters. “This means they don’t want parliament to function by using the Congress. The BJP wants Rahul Gandhi to be the face [of the Opposition] so that it helps the BJP.”