KOLKATA: Amid widening differences with the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav met Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at her Kalighat residence on Friday. The two leaders are believed to be keen on forming an anti-BJP, non-Congress opposition front. Yadav reached Kolkata to attend a two-day national executive committee meeting of his party.
The meeting between the heavyweights is said to be significant in the wake of talk of forming a platform of like-minded regional parties who are in favour of maintaining an equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress. Mamata is also likely to meet Biju Janata Dal chief Navin Patnaik next week as a follow-up to her meeting with Yadav.
Sources in the TMC said Mamata, during her meeting with Yadav, expressed her anger over the Congress criticising her party for contesting the Meghalaya elections and made it clear that she would not join the Congress-led alliance.
Yadav had supported the TMC during the high-octane Bengal Assembly elections which was reciprocated by Mamata when she campaigned for the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister during the 2022 election.
Mamata convened a meeting on Friday where the party's MPs, MLAs and leaders were present. TMC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay said the Congress is not doing the right thing at the right time and is trying to be the ‘big boss’ of opposition parties.
"The Congress is not giving regional parties due respect. If Rahul Gandhi is portrayed as the face of the Opposition alliance, it will benefit the BJP. We are not talking about a third front right now but the TMC will discharge its responsibilities as the largest opposition party in India. We are in a position to oppose the BJP with other regional parties in the coming days," he said.
The senior TMC leader said the Congress already joined hands with the CPI(M) in Bengal and in the coming days it will follow the same path as the BJP.
The West Bengal CM made it clear after her party’s defeat in Murshidabad’s Sagardighi by-election that the TMC will not join the anti-BJP alliance with the Congress saying, "We can fight against the BJP alone."
Both Yadav and Mamata have maintained their distance from the idea of a Congress-led alliance against the BJP and at different points of time, they have floated the idea of a non-BJP, non-Congress platform with leaders such as Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
On several occasions, Mamata and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is the TMC’s national general secretary, alleged that Congress MLAs had joined the BJP after winning elections and the grand old party has no right to lead the opposition alliance against the BJP.