Mamata Banerjee has joined the long list of opposition leaders to reject the proposal by the DMK Supremo MK Stalin that Rahul Gandhi be anolinted the joint opposition candidate for Prime Minister for the coming general elections.
That the members of a prospective alliance do not seem to agree became clear almost as soon Stalin made the proposal when Rahul arrived in Chennai for the statue unveiling of the late DMK CM of Tamil nadu MK Karunanidhi, father of Stalin . The first to shoot down the proposal was the CPM Supreme Sitaram yechury who said the time was not appropriate for such selection and terming Stalin’s comments as his personal opinion. Later Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav also pitched in with the same opinion. Now the West Bengal Chief Minister has shot down the call. The Trinamool Congress chief said that the issue of prime ministerial candidate could be discussed after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which are due in April-May.
“It could be discussed only after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, once the opposition alliance emerged winners. All (opposition) parties will meet and decide on the issue. We will accept that,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat in Kolkata.
“This is not the time to discuss this issue. And I am not alone. We are working together. We are solidly together,” Mamata said when asked whether she was one of the contenders for the top job.
The TMC earlier said announcing prime ministerial candidate now would be premature would as it would divide the Opposition camp.
On reports of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) coming together for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls without the Congress, Banerjee said, “This is very good. It is local compulsion. We appreciate that.”
The Congress could also be fighting alone in places due to similar compulsions, she said.
There have been reports that Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have finalised a poll pact without Congress and a formal announcement will be made on January 15, the birthday of the BSP supremo.The Congress may have performed better than expected in the just concluded Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and returned to power in the three states, the plan of stitching a Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan to the challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019 still appears to be far fetched.
The absence of key opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati at the swearing-in ceremonies of three Congress chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh on Monday did not go unnoticed. It even triggered speculation that all was not well in the Grand Alliance that is being assiduously sought to be built up to take on the BJP Led NDA in the forthcoming Lok sabha elections.
Mayawati chose to stay away despite her BSP Pledging support to the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the Alkhilash Yadav SP backing the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress has won a majority on its own in Chhattisgarh.
Banerjee, who had earlier floated the idea of a central front of regional parties, has not shown the same warmth for the Congress after exchanging bonhomie with Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, and her counterparts from Delhi and Telangana, Arvind Kejriwal and K Chandrashekar Rao respectively, apart fromStalin.It is pertimnent to note that Mayawati and Yadav had shared the dais at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka’s Janata Dal (Secular) chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru in May, where a show of opposition unity was on display.