Mamata Banerjee's walk-out from the UPA government might have partially repaired her reputation for being too noisy an empty vessel, but her plunge into national politics is still ridden with challenges. The biggest being, BJP.
That is not to say that BJP has deliberately posted itself in Banerjee's path of national reach - in fact, it seems only too willing to bury the hatchet of the past and piggyback TMC into bringing the UPA down. And there in lies the problem.
Like Radhika Ramaseshan's article in The Telegraph points out, the possible allies that Mamata can fall back up on to form her 'federal front', seem squeamish about the implications of supporting her. The article quotes a Samajwadi Party source as saying, Sharad Yadav's presence in the rally seems to have given out feelers about Banerjee joining the NDA, something that is not high on the SP's agenda. Interestingly, Banerjee in her Jantar Mantar meet had declared that she intends to coax Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav to join her in her Lucknow dharna next month. The Telegraph article quotes:
“The invite is fraught with danger because Mamataji linked her opposition to retail FDI with a threat to bring down the government. Such a project will be perceived as a way of helping the BJP and the NDA. We can’t ignore the presence of the NDA convener (Sharad Yadav) at her Jantar Mantar meeting. Was Sharadji acting on his own or on the BJP’s prompting? People will ask, ‘has Mamata decided to be part of the NDA again?’ Such doubts and speculation do not suit us politically,” an aide to Mulayam said.
Banerjee's trouble stems from the fact that she might not be able to cross over to NDA without risking the Muslim votes in Bengal she has been fiercely wooing and the other parties might not join her under the impression that they too might be mistaken for a BJP sympathiser - a party, not the most favourite with the minority electorate.
An opinion piece in The Telegraph voices the same concern. It says, "Ms Banerjee would like to find new allies in order to regain her relevance in national politics. But she also hopes that her national campaign will help her in subsequent elections in Bengal."
Banerjee's woes seem to have been compounded by the fact that the figureheads of the NDA have been making far-from-subtle gestures to win Banerjee over to their side. Right from the time Banerjee set the 72-hour-deadline for the UPA to the day she quit the government, the BJP has lost no time in vociferously coming out in support of her moves. Then NDA convenor and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav turned up for her Jantar Mantar rally and very recently, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi shot a veiled invitation to Banerjee to join the NDA.
With the West Bengal chapter of the Congress crying itself hoarse over how Mamata Banerjee is 'tilting towards the NDA', the Trinamool chief's political ambitions might just be left half baked in the conflict of interests between state and national politics.