Kolkata: As Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is fast emerging as the principal face of the opposition for the 2024 polls, two questions are floating around in the political circles and the corridors of power in West Bengal.
Will Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee be able to bring her party out of the current multiple crisis chain and emerge as a key player in determining terms in the opposition space at the national level for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Will she accept Nitish Kumar as the most accepted face of the Opposition?
On Thursday afternoon while addressing party workers and leaders at Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee remarked about the need for opposition unity against the BJP in 2024, without making it clear whether she would accept Nitish Kumar as the principal face of the opposition.
“We, Nitish Kumar, Akhilesh Yadav and Hemant Soren are all together. You will see that others will also be united soon. The game for 2024 will start from West Bengal,” she said. Interestingly, she did not count Congress in the list.
BJP’s national vice-president and party MP, Dilip Ghosh feels that the ambition to be a key player to remove the saffron party from power in New Delhi is an unachievable dream for the Trinamool Congress in the present political situation. “Rather she should concentrate now on keeping her chair of chief minister intact till the 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” Ghosh said.
The CPI(M) leadership feels that accepting Nitish Kumar as the main opposition face in 2024 is not a problem for them, since the Left Parties in Bihar are already backing the Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance government there.
At a joint press conference at New Delhi on September 6, Kumar and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that their prime aim now is to unite all the opposition parties which includes the Congress and other regional parties. The regional parties which Kumar said he is interacting with included all except the Trinamool Congress.
In fact, despite having separate meetings with leaders of political parties like the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and TRS’s K Chandrasekhar Roy, the Bihar chief minister is yet to hold any meeting with Mamata Banerjee or any other Trinamool Congress leader.
According to political analyst Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, the Trinamool Congress’s stand in the recent Presidential and Vice- Presidential elections have isolated the party as well as Mamata Banerjee at the national level.
“In the Presidential polls, she fielded her own party’s national vice-president, Yashwant Sinha against the NDA candidate, Droupadi Murmu. After that she made a public statement that had the BJP informed her about Murmu’s candidature earlier she could have considered supporting her. In the Vice-President polls, her party abstained from voting making the path for the NDA candidate and former West Bengal governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar’s victory smoother. All these have made Trinamool Congress more isolated in the opposition space at the national level. It is no longer in a position to dictate terms. So, if Nitish Kumar is finally projected as the principal opposition face in the 2024 polls, Mamata Banerjee will either have to accept him or get further isolated,” he said.
The fact that the Trinamool Congress is getting more isolated at the national level became evident on August 30 when an Aam Aadmi Party leader took digs at the Trinamool Congress about the latter’s approach to the central agency probes.
“The difference is that AAP leaders do not take shelter in hospitals when they are being hounded by central agencies like the CBI or ED,” the party’s state spokesman Arnab Moitra told media persons. His clear indication was towards the heavyweight Trinamool Congress leaders who had either taken shelter or had made attempts to do so in the Woodburn Ward of the state-run SSKM Medical College & Hospital in Kolkata whenever they were chased by the central agencies.
According to another political analyst Rajagopal Dhar Chakraborty, the stand of the Trinamool Congress on the Presidential and Vice Presidential polls has actually given scope to Banerjee’s arch political rivals in West Bengal, the CPI(M) and the Congress to vociferously go ahead with their old campaign describing Mamata Banerjee as an indirect facilitator of the BJP.
“It seems that the other regional parties have started believing in this particular campaign. In such a situation I do not see any opportunity for Trinamool Congress to be in a position to dictate terms in the opposition space before the 2024 polls, rather going with any commonly accepted face, be it Nitish Kumar or anyone else, in 2024,” he said.