TMC calls Patna oppn meet ‘good beginning’ ahead of 2024 LS polls

Kolkata:┬áThe Trinamool Congress considers Friday’s opposition meeting in Bihar’s Patna as a “good beginning” ahead of the 2024 general elections and emphasised the significance of anti-BJP parties uniting against “undemocratic and authoritarian policies”.

Leaders as diverse as Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, M K Stalin, Sharad Pawar, Mehbooba Mufti and Hemant Soren and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are expected to take part in the meeting convened by Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar, who dumped the BJP last year.

Banerjee will be accompanied by TMC national general secretary and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee for the opposition meeting.

A good beginning even before reaching Patna…All parties working to save the Constitution of the country are on the same page on many issues. For now, we have a date, a venue and an agreement that the head of every party will attend the meeting.

“Subsequently, the date and venue for the next meeting will be decided in Patna. Beyond this, it is not advisable for anyone to jump the gun and speculate,” TMC’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien said.

The idea of hosting a meeting of opposition leaders in Patna was floated by Banerjee, who had invoked the memory of Jayaprakash Narayan upon meeting Kumar in Kolkata in April.

The aim should be to ensure that the opposition unity takes shape at the earliest as less than a year is left before the 2024 general elections, Senior TMC leader Sukhendu Shekhar Roy told PTI.

“The BJP has destroyed the country’s democracy and is trying to subvert the Constitution. If the parties, which are opposed to the BJP and are fighting against it, fail to come together to put up a united fight, it would be unfortunate for the country,” he said.

Roy said the efforts to cobble up opposition unity had begun last year during the selection of opposition candidates for the presidential elections.

When asked whether the issue of leadership of the opposition front would throw a spanner into the efforts, Roy said, “Only media and BJP are bothered about it. Neither the opposition parties nor the people of this country are bothered about such a leadership issue.”

Another TMC leader, who did not wish to be named, said the ongoing crisis in Manipur, where ethnic violence has claimed over 100 lives, would also feature in the discussions.

After the Congress’ massive victory in the Karnataka polls earlier this month, the TMC supremo had said her party would support the grand old party where it is strong in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections but had asserted that she would expect a seat-sharing formula to give priority to regional players in areas where they were strong.

Kumar, the JD(U) ‘s supreme leader, has been pitching for “opposition unity” ever since he snapped ties with the BJP in August last year.

The BJP dubbed the proposed opposition meeting a “futile exercise” and said such an “opportunistic alliance would not yield any result”.

“These are futile exercises. We saw such efforts in 2014 and 2019, and the results are before us. The people of this country trust the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They would never vote for an unstable and opportunistic alliance,” BJP’s West Bengal unit president Sukanta Majumdar said.