Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with Tejashwi Yadav on Monday over a possible tie-up for the West Bengal election signalled realignment in which the Congress’s ally in Bihar is set to be its rival. Tejashwi Yadav called on the Bengal Chief Minister at her office at “Nabanna” in Kolkata and the two leaders reportedly discussed seat-sharing.
“Our alliance with the Left and Congress is only in Bihar. It is our duty to strengthen Mamata Didi’s hands here and fight the BJP,” the Bihar opposition leader told reporters after the meeting.
The 31-year-old said there were many Hindi-speaking voters in Bengal and his father Lalu Yadav had decided that his party would back Mamata Banerjee fully.
“We have always respected Didi, we have good relations. We will stand with Mamata Ji and stand against communal forces who want to break the nation. BJP is dreaming of coming to power here but it won’t happen,” said Tejashwi Yadav, praising the Chief Minister.
“I want to appeal to people from Bihar to choose wisely. Look at the BJP. Everyone (BJP leaders) has dropped their work and come to Bengal.”
Mamata Banerjee returned the compliment, saying Lalu Yadav was not released from jail because “they knew if Laluji was out, they would lose” the Bihar election in November.
“They cheated and won in Bihar. Tejashwi is fighting, I am fighting. See how they have set the schedule,” she said, once again lashing out at the election dates that have Bengal voting in eight rounds spread over 33 days.
The Congress and the Left have vowed to make the Bengal contest a triangular one, though the main battle is between Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the BJP, which has invested its top leaders, resources and effort in trying to snatch the state from the two-time Chief Minister.
In neighbouring Bihar, the BJP and Nitish Kumar managed to retain power against a strong fight put up by the Tejashwi Yadav-led opposition. While Tejashwi’s RJD emerged as the biggest party, the opposition’s tally was dragged down by the Congress’s abysmal performance.
Many feel the RJD gave too many seats to the Congress in Bihar.
In Bengal, the RJD’s support is symbolic; Tejashwi Yadav is likely to campaign for the Trinamool Congress in seats where there is a significant Bihari population.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury went into denial mode when asked about the Tejashwi-Mamata Banerjee meeting.
“I don’t know him (Tejashwi) well. I used to know his father. There is no seat sharing in West Bengal, the meeting with Mamata-di is a separate thing,” Chowdhury said.
Bengal, three more states and the Union Territory of Puducherry will start voting for elections from March 27 and the results will be declared on May2. Another on again, of again Congress ally in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, also spoke to Mamata Banerjee on the phone.
Akhilesh Yadav, the leader of another intermittent Congress ally in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party, also spoke to Banerjee on phone.