Omar Abdullah, Mamata Banerjee talk alliance ahead of 2019, but silent on PM candidate and structure of federal front
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah endorsed the need for the formation of a grand alliance of Opposition parties against the BJP in the next Lok Sabha election.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah met West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday and the duo endorsed the need for the formation of a grand alliance of Opposition parties against the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Speaking to the press after the closed-door meeting held at the Nabanna, the West Bengal administration headquarters, Omar said that it was important for all like-minded parties to join hands to take the fight to the BJP.
"We are trying to form a true federal front where we will try to bring together all parties which oppose the BJP. We need to unite to face the BJP in 2019," he said.
Omar further said that the BJP government at the Centre has structurally failed to deliver on a host of issues, including the situation in Kashmir. He said that he held discussions with Mamata over several issues, including the prevailing situation in Kashmir and the general atmosphere of fear among minorities.
"...Of course no discussions between the two of us would be complete without discussing the prevailing situation in the country. The fear that prevails among the minority community in the country and also the need that is there for us to be together for a united front, a united force and take on the BJP in the forthcoming General Election next year," he told reporters at the state secretariat Nabanna.
"Mamata didi has always been concerned about Kashmir. We discussed the current situation of my state. We had a discussion about the present situation in the nation and about the fear that prevails in minorities," Omar said.
"Going ahead the other parties also have to be included. We will try to set aside the differences as far as possible and go for the best in terms of taking the fight to the BJP in 2019," he said.
Asked whether Congress would be a part of the proposed federal front, Abdullah, while refusing to give a name to the proposed alliance, said it would be wrong to pick and choose between the parties, stressed on the importance of assembling all the anti-BJP forces together. However, he refused to comment on whether the opposition should opt for a one-on-one fight with the BJP in the poll.
On the question of who will be the prime ministerial face, in case a united federal front does come together, Omar said that it was a moot point as there was still time for the elections.
"Neither the election dates are announced nor the nominations have been filed, so it makes no sense to talk about the Prime Ministerial candidates right now. Our initial aim should be to take our fight to the BJP. It is not correct to think about names right now. If we start doing that, we will spoil the thing that we are trying to achieve," he added.
When someone specifically brought up Mamata's name, Omar said, "See you took her name and she stepped back. She has done good work in the state and we would want that the nation also benefits from her experience."
Omar also termed the queries about a formal name for the so-called alliance in the offing, premature. Mamata also reiterated her commitment to defeat the BJP in 2019 and said her party will continue to explore options for alliance with like-minded political fronts.
"We haven't given the alliance any name yet. The names are being given by the media. All parties that are against BJP, will be made a part of this initiative. There is no restriction on any parties.
"It will be wrong to say that we will allow certain parties to be in the alliance while some others will be left out. Our attempt would be to assemble all the parties that are against BJP to put up a fight against them in the coming election," he said.
Mamata had recently accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to create an "atmosphere of Talibani Hinduism and Talibani communalism" in the country, giving the call to oust the saffron party in the next Lok Sabha poll with the slogan "BJP hatao, desh bachao".
The TMC supremo, who has been a critic of the Narendra Modi government and its policies, has recently given the call for uniting all Opposition parties to oust the BJP government.
Last Saturday, addressing the annual TMC martyrs' day rally, Mamata had said TMC would hold a mega rally of Opposition parties at the Brigade Parade ground here on 19 January to sound the poll bugle to capture power in Delhi. Opposition party leaders from across the country would be invited to the rally, she had said.
With inputs from agencies
The run-up to the polls, which should have been a humdrum affair, became a cause celebre after it was marred by violence, arrests, sit-ins in far-away Delhi and a Supreme Court intervention asking officials to ensure peaceful polling.
As per sources, Ashok Tanwar, who quit the Congress in October 2019 and launched his own party, and former JD(U) general secretary Pavan Varma will also join the TMC in Delhi on Tuesday
The Mamata Banerjee-led party, however, said it would cooperate with other opposition camps on various issues concerning people's interest