Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) no longer existed.
Taking a potshot at the Congress, Ms. Banerjee said she, along with others, “is ready to fight against the BJP, but she cannot do anything if someone is not willing to fight”.
Ms. Banerjee, who is on a three-day visit to Maharashtra, met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar at the latter’s residence in Mumbai. Speaking after the meeting, Ms. Banerjee said, “I believe that a strong alternative needs to be raised against the fascism growing in the country. It cannot be done alone. Whoever is stronger, wherever, should do it. Sharad ji is the senior-most leader with whom I have worked and that’s why I have come to hold discussions with him.”
The Trinamool chief had met Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut on Tuesday.
Mr. Pawar was, however, more cautious in his reply on whether the Congress would be dropped from a united front against the BJP. “There is no question of omitting anyone. We are talking about taking everyone along. Whoever is ready to work hard and ready to join hands with others will be taken along,” he said.
Asked about the UPA and whether Mr. Pawar should lead it, Ms. Banerjee retorted: “Which UPA are you talking about?”
“There is no UPA,” she added.
“We believe that a strong alternative should be raised. We must fight. What can we do if someone is not fighting? We want to fight,” she said.
Earlier, Mr. Pawar, explaining the reason behind the meeting with Ms. Banerjee, said they discussed national politics and the need to form a strong alternative front.
“Me and my colleagues had a long discussion. Her intention is to set up a collective leadership platform by bringing like-minded people to provide strong alternative to the BJP. This platform should be established before 2024 elections and that was her intention to visit and we had a positive discussion,” Mr. Pawar said.
On whether it is possible to build a front without the Congress, Mr. Pawar said that those who are against BJP should come together with seriousness. Replying to the question on the leadership of the anti-BJP front, Mr. Pawar said “it is not an issue and more importance should be given to setting up a strong front”.
Ms. Banerjee on Wednesday also held a meeting with civil society activists and urged them to continue their fight against the BJP.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was victimised like many others and termed the BJP "cruel" and "undemocratic".
The TMC supremo interacted with members of civil society here on the second day of her three-day visit to Mumbai.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, lyricist Javed Akhtar, actors Shatrughan Sinha, Richa Chaddha, besides Swara Bhaskar, comedian Munawar Faruqui, and Sudheendra Kulkarni among others were present.
"India loves manpower and not muscle power. Unity in diversity is our origin. Unfortunately, we are facing a cruel, undemocratic and unethical attitude of BJP," Banerjee said while responding to a question from Mahesh Bhat on how the liberal forces can be protected from the right-wing.
"I know Mahesh Bhatt is victimised, Shah Rukh is victimised. There are many more... Some can open their mouths and some can't," Banerjee said.