The Congress criticised Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, on Monday after he met his West Bengal and Odisha counterparts Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee to discuss the formation of a non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition, NDTV reported.

“If you talk of exclusion and do not want to ally with those who want to ally with the Congress, then you are doing ‘politics of division’ and you want to help the ruling party,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters. “I don’t think other parties will get trapped in this.” Singhvi claimed that attempts to keep the principal Opposition party out of an alliance, makes it “clear that they want to help someone else”.

However, the Congress leader said his party did not have any problems with political leaders meeting one another. “You will see that the Congress will emerge victorious after it contests elections with many other parties,” he added.

Congress leader and former Union minister Anand Sharma called Rao “an agent of the Modi-Shah combine” and accused him of trying to “effectively divide the combined Opposition resolve to remove the BJP government”.

After meeting Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, Rao had said talks for a “federal front” would continue. “Very shortly we will come out with a concrete plan,” he added. The Telangana chief minister is also expected to meet Uttar Pradesh leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.

With the BJP expected to win fewer seats in next year’s parliamentary elections, regional parties are likely to play a crucial role, analysts have predicted.