West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday made a strong case for according priority to regional parties as they rally around Congress to put up a united fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
Mamata claimed that the BJP chokes in states where a regional party is strong and mooted the idea of parties strong in a particular region coming together to take on the BJP.
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“Wherever a regional political party is strong there BJP cannot fight. The parties which are strong in a particular region should fight together,” she said.
However, Mamata said that while she supports the Congress party in Karnataka, the grand old party should also refrain from contesting against her in West Bengal.
“I am supporting Congress in Karnataka but it should not fight against me in Bengal,” Mamata added.
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Mamata’s remarks come less than 48 hours after the Congress registered an emphatic victory in Karnataka, displacing the ruling BJP from power in the state. The verdict is being seen as a shot in the arm for the party ahead of the 2024 general elections and is also expected to give it a greater say in its negotiations with regional parties on seat-sharing.
The Congress’s plan for 2024, which has found the support of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is to have one candidate of the Opposition against one of the BJP in as many of the 543 Lok Sabha seats as possible.
“We (TMC) should fight Bengal. AAP should fight Delhi. If you see states like Bihar, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana or Punjab, the stronger party must get priority. Wherever the Congress is strong, the 200-odd seats we have calculated, let them fight. We will give support. But they have to see that they support other political parties also,” Mamata said.
“I am supporting you in Karnataka, but you are fighting against me every day. That should not be the policy. If you want some good, you should be ready to make some sacrifice yourself too in some areas,” she added.
While the plan appears feasible on paper, there have been doubts about its practicality, especially in states where Opposition parties are in a contest with the Congress. West Bengal is just one such example.