Amid widening differences with Congress, Akhilesh Yadav to meet Mamata Banerjee

Samajwadi Party chief will be in Kolkata to attend his party’s national executive meeting, which will look into strategies for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and future Assembly elections

March 16, 2023 10:01 pm | Updated 10:01 pm IST - Lucknow

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee with Akhilesh Yadav.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee with Akhilesh Yadav. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

In an indication of working towards an non-Congress opposition front at the national level, Samajwadi Party(SP) president Akhilesh Yadav has reached out to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the SP, which is holding its national executive meeting in Kolkata from March 18, is likely to deliberate its road map for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Mr. Yadav is likely to meet the Trinamool Congress (TMC) president on March 17.

The SP’s national executive meeting holds significance as the Uttar Pradesh-centric party has lately indicated widening differences with the Congress, with Mr. Yadav doing so far as to say the BJP and the Congress were similar. “The BJP is doing nothing new by following the same path. If Congress has been today razed to the ground, the BJP will meet the same fate,” Mr. Yadav said, when asked about the raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on opposition leaders.

The SP national executive will discuss strategies and the party’s agenda for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and other Assembly elections in the future. At the meet, the party’s parliamentary board is likely to be formed for better coordination in ticket distribution for the upcoming polls. Various State presidents are slated to participate along with the party’s national office-bearers.

“We will leave no stone unturned to unseat the BJP from power at the Centre in 2024,” Udaiveer Singh, the SP national spokesperson, told The Hindu. Mr. Singh described Mr. Yadav’s meeting with Ms. Banerjee as a “courtesy call”. “It is natural when you visit a particular State, meeting with top leaders happens. Both Akhilesh-ji and Mamata-ji share a cordial relationship,” Mr. Singh added.

Both the SP chief and the West Bengal CM have maintained their distance from the idea of a Congress-led opposition, and at different points of time have floated the idea of an non-BJP, non-Congress front with leaders such as Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal. In the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections, the SP had announced its support for the TMC and subsequently, the West Bengal CM supported the SP during the 2022 U.P. Assembly polls.

Earlier, Mr. Yadav had also indicated the intention to place an SP candidate in Amethi, a Congress pocket borough represented till 2019 by the Gandhi family. “I was deeply saddened to see the plight of poor women in Amethi. VIPs have always won and lost here, despite this, condition is like this, so what to say about the rest of the State,” he posted in Hindi on Twitter, along with two photographs of women sitting on the ground during a visit by him to Amethi a week ago. “Next time, Amethi will not elect big people but people with big hearts. SP takes a pledge to eradicate poverty from Amethi,” Mr. Yadav added.

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