Leaders of Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Maharashtra’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have held talks with West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and agreed to form an alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Dal (BJP) in the assembly polls due in the state in March-April, according to leaders aware of the developments.
RJD national general secretary Shyam Rajak met Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and TMC youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata on Monday, Rajak said. On the same day, TMC Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy held talks with NCP founder and former Maharashtra chief minister Sharad Pawar in Delhi, Roy said. Pawar also talked to CM Banerjee over phone.
“I met Abhishek Banerjee and we agreed on one agenda. The BJP has to be defeated in Bengal. That is our only goal,” Rajak said after returning to Patna on Tuesday evening. “We did not discuss the issue of seat sharing in the first round of talks. That can take place later. We will be frequenting Bengal from now on,” he added.
Roy said he was happy with regional parties offered support to the TMC. “Pawar and I had a round of talks on Monday. He is in touch with Mamata Banerjee. The NCP’s Darjeeling district unit will hold a meeting on Wednesday,” he said.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), an opposition force in Uttar Pradesh, too is eager to form an alliance with the TMC, Roy said. “Akhilesh Yadav may visit Kolkata. This is a hopeful sign. A consensus is emerging that the BJP needs to be stopped,” he added.
With CM Banerjee trying to consolidate anti-Bharatiya Janata Party votes, top parties from the Hindi heartland have geared up to enter the race, triggering the possibility of a split in votes cast by Hindi-speaking and tribal people. The advantage of such a division, no matter how small, may help the TMC in some regions, political experts and TMC leaders feel.
Kolkata-based political science professor Udayan Bandopadhyay said the TMC will benefit from the voices of these regional parties.
“The NCP and RJD are non-entities in Bengal. This is a bi-polar contest between TMC and BJP. Banerjee’s efforts are exposing the dichotomy in the TMC. On one hand, ruling party leaders call the BJP a party of Hindi-speaking outsiders while on the other they seek help from regional forces,” said Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.