Mamata seeks 'opposition bloc' with Jaya

The party plans to form the bloc to protect state interests

Mamata seeks 'opposition bloc' with Jaya

Trinamool Congress chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is said to have initiated talks with her Tamil Nadu counterpart and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha, to come together and form an ‘opposition bloc’ in Parliament. 

This comes after BJP’s historic win shunted Mamata from the political scenario at the Centre, even though the Trinamool is the fourth-largest party in the country winning 34 seats in the general elections. 

Sources in the Trinamool said that the party was planning to form the bloc to “protect interests of states” in a Lok Sabha that seems to have no Opposition. “Since the Congress has failed to secure 10 per cent of the House’s strength needed to acquire the status of opposition party, Mamata hopes that with the help of Jayalalitha and other non-BJP parties, they can come together to work as one and act as the real Opposition,” a senior Trinamool leader said.

Mamata had also expressed her plan to hold talks with other regional parties soon after the results on May 16. “We are trying to work out an arrangement where interests of the states are protected since the BJP won the polls with a landslide margin and does not need the support of other parties. We are not sure if Narendra Modi will keep politics aside and cooperate with states for development,” a senior party leader said.

Mamata is optimistic about roping in the AIADMK supremo as she was able to stop the BJP’s onslaught in her home state by winning 37 out of the 39 seats. While experts are of the opinion that the Constitution permits the formation of such an opposition bloc, former speaker Somnath Chatterjee said, “If the opposition parties form a bloc in Parliament and appeal to the Speaker in writing claiming ‘opposition’ status for the bloc, the Speaker may consider it.”

Trinamool sources, however, admitted that it was not clear which way the talks were headed as Mamata was one of the few chief ministers who did not congratulate Modi on his victory. Jayalalitha, on her part, had sent a congratulatory message to the Prime Minister-designate. 

“Since Modi also called Jayalalitha and assured her of all cooperation in the development of Tamil Nadu, she may not agree to side with Mamata and disturb whatever arrangement she might have made with Modi. The Trinamool could be isolated in its fight against Modi since our leader severely criticised him during the poll campaign,” another leader said. In Chennai, AIADMK sources said that they are not aware of any such development. 

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