Mamata's phone diplomacy to unite 'federal' parties against BJP

Mamata's phone diplomacy to unite 'federal' parties against BJP

Attempting to bring non-Congress parties under one umbrella in the fight against BJP, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee is working phones and reaching out to regional satraps, the latest being DMK's M K Stalin.

After a telephonic convesation with TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who spoke about a non-BJP, non-Congress front, Banerjee also spoke to Stalin and they agreed that they should keep in touch.

Banerjee and Stalin spoke for about 12 minutes on Sunday night, a day before the second leg of Budget Session began, and emphasised the need for coordination inside and outside Parliament. She has also spoken to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who recently announced that his party will go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls and not in alliance with BJP.

Sources said Banerjee believes that a block of parties like TMC, DMK, TRS, Samajwadi Party and BSP can win at least 75 seats.

However, Banerjee's outreach programme has raised questions about TMC's relationship with Congress and whether it was planning a non-Congress front. Senior Trinamool Congress leaders do not encourage such propositions and said that they would talk to Congress.

Sources said TDP MPs had a meeting with TMC's Sudip Bandhopadhyay and Derek O'Brien ahead of Parliament session to impress upon them their demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, sources said, the TMC leadership is now planning to have a meeting with TRS MPs, especially against the backdrop of the conversation between Rao and Banerjee.

Focus on BJP's defeat

When asked about Banerjee's efforts, O'Brien said, his party chief has taken a lead in defeating the BJP by talking to 'federal' parties. "We are on track," he said.

Banerjee's efforts coincide with BSP's announcement that it will support the Samajwadi Party candidate in UP's Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls to defeat BJP, though BSP chief Mayawati did not call it an alliance.

Senior BJP leader and Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad said all parties are free to do whatever they want in a democracy. "But let us see how much progress they will make," he added.

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