Pre-Poll Alliance Talk Among, Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal

Pre-Poll Alliance Talk Among, Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal

Pre-Poll Alliance Talk Among, Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: After a 15-party meeting this evening at Sharad Pawar's home, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that a pre-election alliance will be formed among the opposition parties to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, She said that the knotty question of alliance in Bengal and Delhi -- where her Trinamool Congress and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party have a history of rivalry with the Congress -- has "not been decided yet".  

"We will have a pre-poll alliance to remove Modi. Pre-poll alliance so there is no difficulty afterwards," Ms Banerjee said after the meet, where Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Mr Kejriwal were also present.

"We will compete with each other as well," Mr Gandhi said, indicating that his party is willing to go it alone in both states. The three leaders are expected to work closely together despite their earlier differences, to form a united front against the BJP in the coming general elections.

After the meeting, Ms Banerjee said that discussions are also on for a Common Minimum Programme. The meeting took place after a day-long show of strength at Delhi's Jantar Mantar. The opposition parties, she added, will meet every 15 days to fine-tune their strategy.

According to the sources, part of the discussion was on a possible alliance between Mr Kejriwal's party and the Congress in Delhi. While the two parties are known for their political rivalry, the opposition leaders are arguing that a lack of an alliance in Delhi is likely to harm the unity agenda, sources said.

The national capital Delhi has seven Lok Sabha seats, all of which were won by the BJP in the 2014 national elections. However, Arvind Kejriwal wom big  in the subsequent assembly election. In 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party swept the elections, while the Congress drew a blank.

From the beginning, the Congress-AAP dynamics had been skewed, with Mr Kejriwal's party being an offshoot of the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare that had targeted the Congress government in Delhi led by Sheila Dikshit.

The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party had entered a partnership in 2013, which ended with Mr Kejriwal's 49-day tenure as Chief Minister.

The parties, which have been at loggerheads since, had to re-calibrate their stance after persuasion from opposition leaders -- Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, DMK chief MK Stalin and CPM's Sitaram Yechury. Co-opted into the united opposition, Mr Kejriwal even shared stage with Rahul Gandhi.

The mega rally today was attended by leaders of 15 parties -- way below the 23 that had attended Ms Banerjee's January 19 rally in Kolkata. The other opposition leaders attending the meet include Mr Naidu and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah.

The Chief Minister of Bengal made the big political statement by saying that she would fight along with bitter political opponents the Congress and the Left to take on the BJP in the general elections.

"In the coming days, we will fight unitedly. Whatever our fight with Congress and CPM, it will be in the state. At the national level, we will all fight together," Ms Banerjee said. "For greater interest of the nation, I am ready to sacrifice my life, I am ready to sacrifice my party, I am ready to sacrifice everything."