West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said anybody could be the prime ministerial face of the opposition bloc for the 2024 elections and she would not impose her “thoughts and opinions" on the issue.
Banerjee’s statement comes ahead of her meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi where she is expected to confabulate with opposition leaders for a strategy to take on the BJP juggernaut in the 2024 general elections.
The chief minister’s assertion also assumes significance as she has often been projected as the face of the opposition bloc to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Apart from Banerjee, NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar is one of the frontrunners to occupy the all-important post, though he has refrained from commenting on the same.
Banerjee’s new-found bonhomie with the Congress, which began ever since the two sides exchanged feelers after her May 2 victory in Bengal, will be the centrepiece of her meeting with Gandhi. Both leaders are known to be fond of each other and Congress has seconded Banerjee’s plan to start preparing for 2024 in advance to give a tough fight to the BJP.
Earlier, Banerjee said “no party should be considered small. All are important" when asked whether Congress would ever accept her as their leader and listen to her advice. Banerjee is aware of the impediments she faces if she is propped as the PM face — including coming from a small party and language barrier — which is another reason why she is seen warming up to the Congress now.
The chief minister, when questioned about the leadership crisis in the Grand Old Party, said it was the party’s internal issue and it was for the top brass to decide on who would head the party.
Meanwhile, Banerjee also hit out at the Centre over the Pegasus snooping row which has held up proceedings in Parliament ever since the Monsoon Session began. She said just like her nephew Abhishek Banerjee and election strategist Prashant Kishor, her phone too was hacked. She added that the opposition wants the House to run but “there should be discussion”. Banerjee also suggested an independent probe into the issue by the Supreme Court.