MAMATA FOR NATIONAL PRE-POLL TIE-UP

Pitching the forthcoming Lok Sabha election as a battle between the BJP and a united opposition with the sole motive to oust the Narendra Modi government, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress President Mamata Banerjee said irrespective of the political differences in the State, there has to be a pre-poll alliance at the national level.

“There are political compulsions in the States. At the national level, we must go for pre-poll alliances so that after elections we can claim to form the government,” Ms. Banerjee told reporters.

Her comments come a day after Opposition leaders — Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal — met for dinner at NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s residence along with Ms. Banerjee.

Hinting at Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), who have shown reluctance to be part of any such alliance at the Centre, the West Bengal Chief Minister said, “However, the parties which cannot take a decisions on pre-poll alliances, it’s okay; I respect that they have political compulsions.”

The SP did not send any representative to the Pawar dinner and BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra came in for a few seconds.

The Left leaders were also conspicuous by their absence. Asked about the CPI(M), a prime opponent of the Trinamool in West Bengal, Ms Banerjee said, “I do not know whether the Left will come with us or not. They did not come for yesterday’s [Wednesday’s] meeting.”

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has however, maintained that their alliances will depend on equations at the State level and has virtually ruled out being part of any mahagathbandhan.

To a query on the Bengal government denying BJP leaders permission to hold rallies in the State, Ms. Banerjee said they were “liars”. “They are lying about us not allowing them to carry on rallies. He (Amit Shah) had swine flu, discharged himself from hospital and still held a rally.”