Intensifying her efforts to unite all the Opposition parties against Narendra Modi government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and got the backing of BJP rebels Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Shatrughan Sinha to her efforts to forge a broad coalition of forces for one-to-one fight with the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Mamata Banerjee had met Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, KCR’s daughter and MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha, MPs of BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti besides MPs from Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and DMK.
While Kejriwal, who met Banerjee for about half-an-hour, did not speak to the media, the BJP rebels Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, Arun Shourie have expressed their open support for Mamata. This is a big blow to BJP from its senior leaders.
Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha met Banerjee along with BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha and said they came to meet her as there was a need to save the country. “We worked together for a long time in the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government and you are all familiar with her personality,” he said. “The role she has played in this direction is admirable. We came to thank her and she should continue discharging the role strongly in the future. She has our full support and cooperation,” Yashwant Sinha said.
Shatrughan Sinha said that Mamata was a mass leader connected to the grassroots. “We are with her in her struggle for the country. Nation is bigger than the party. All this work is not anti-party but pro-nation. We have come to give her support for the sake of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Arun Shourie praised Mamata Banerjee’s pitch for one-to-one contest with the BJP in 2019 elections. “If this is one-to-one formula is adopted, then the opposition parties start with 69 percent of the votes. Because even at the height of his popularity, Modi got only 31 percent of the votes,” he said.
Answering a question on Congress, he hoped that the principal opposition party “will see the good sense for everybody to be together. Because if this momentum (of BJP’s victories) is not broken, there will be no Congress and nobody even among them personally in the second round,” Shourie said.
Citing the instance of Bihar where Congress was part of coalition that defeated the BJP, he said the party did not take Banerjee’s offer for an alliance in Tripura and the result was there for all to see. He also referred to Assam where Congress did not go for alliance. “So they should reflect on these things. There are mature people there. They should reflect,” he said.
He said youth leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani had emerged in Gujarat and Kanhaiya Kumar had emerged at JNU. “Parties should also connect with them,” he added.
Responding to a question about who will lead the front against Modi, he said there was no need to think about it now and it was sufficient for people to work in their areas for the present.