Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Won’t attend I.N.D.I.A. bloc meet on June 1 due to polling, post-cyclone relief work: Mamata

According to sources, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has convened a meeting of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc leaders on the afternoon of June 1, when the last phase of polling will be underway.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 12:40 IST
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 12:40 IST

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Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will give the meeting of the I.N.D.I.A. leaders on June 1 a miss.

“The BJP will lose this time and will not be able to form the next government at the Centre,” Banerjee said at an election rally in the Kolkata Uttar Lok Sabha constituency on Monday, adding that I.N.D.I.A. had already convened a “team meeting” on June 1. The TMC supremo and the state’s chief minister, however, also said that she would not be able to attend the meeting of the bloc as she would have to stay in Kolkata, not only to monitor the last phase of voting for the parliamentary elections in the state but also to coordinate relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by the Cyclone Remal that hit the coastal areas of the state late on Sunday.

Mallikarjun Kharge, the president of the Congress and the chairperson of I.N.D.I.A., called the meeting of the leaders of the bloc in New Delhi in the afternoon of June 1 – the day the last of the seven phases of polling for the parliamentary elections will be held in 57 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over eight states and union territories. The constituencies, which will go to polls that day, include the last nine of the 42 in West Bengal.

Banerjee will also cast her votes in the Kolkata Dakshin Lok Sabha constituencies in the state that day. Her heir apparent and nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, who is a member of the coordination committee of I.N.D.I.A., will also not be able to attend the meeting as he is a candidate in Diamond Harbour constituency, which will go to polls on June 1.

“As far as I know, some constituencies in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar will also go to polls that day. Voting continues till 6 pm, and at times it extends beyond that,” said Banerjee, campaigning in Bara Bazar for Sudip Bandopadhyay, the TMC’s candidate in the Kolkata Uttar Lok Sabha constituency. “How can I leave everything behind and go? My priority is relief work. Even if I am holding a meeting here, my heart goes out to those people (affected by the cyclone).” She also wondered how the Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav would attend the meeting of the I.N.D.I.A. leaders because voting in some constituencies in Uttar Pradesh would also take place on June 1.

The TMC supremo has been predicting over the past few days that while the BJP would get only around 190-195 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the I.N.D.I.A. constituents would win at least 315 seats – way above the majority mark in the House. She had on May 15 said that the TMC would extend external support to the new government that I.N.D.I.A. would form at the Centre after the defeat of the BJP and its allies in the Lok Sabha elections. As her comment triggered speculations about her stand on I.N.D.I.A., she clarified the next day that the Trinamool Congress was a part of the bloc and would remain so.

Banerjee had played a key role in bringing several opposition parties together during the run-up to the parliamentary polls, attended its meetings, and even named the bloc I.N.D.I.A. But she refused to spare more than two of the 42 Lok Sabha seats for the Congress in West Bengal. The TMC decided to go solo in all the constituencies in the state when its offer was rejected by the Congress.

The CPI (M), however, entered into an electoral understanding with the Congress in West Bengal, despite fighting against each other in Kerala.

Banerjee over the past few weeks often accused the leaders of the Congress and the CPI(M) in West Bengal of being in collusion with the BJP to beat the TMC in the state. She, however, at the same time, insisted that her party remained a part of the I.N.D.I.A..

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Published 27 May 2024, 12:40 IST

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