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Mamata for PM? In Kolkata, Omar Abdullah Says Didi Will Move to Delhi, She Takes a Step Back

On being asked if there was a place for Congress in this planned federal front, Abdullah said that efforts are being made to include all parties to fight the BJP as it would be wrong to leave out any particular party.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:July 27, 2018, 11:43 PM IST
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Mamata for PM? In Kolkata, Omar Abdullah Says Didi Will Move to Delhi, She Takes a Step Back
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee during their meeting at Nabanna in Howrah on Friday. (PTI Photo)
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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met National Conference leader Omar Abdullah in Kolkata on Friday, setting in motion the formation of a grand alliance of opposition parties against the BJP for the next Lok Sabha election.

The two leaders were all praise for each other as they addressed reporters after their meeting at Nabanna, the Bengal administration headquarters. Both said that like-minded parties should come together to defeat the BJP in 2019.

Abdullah stopped short of endorsing Banerjee as the prime ministerial face of a united opposition, but said she would come to Delhi when the time comes. Banerjee, on the other hand, said it is not the time to pick and choose a particular name as it would divide the parties.

When asked if the formation of a grand alliance was discussed during the meet, the NC leader said no discussion can be complete without talking about the “prevailing situation of fear in the country”.

“If you talk about a true federal front, it is made up of parties with no differences. All we have to do is agree to cooperate with each other. I represent a very small party and I can say after speaking to Mamata that we should defeat the BJP,” he said.

On being asked if there was a place for Congress in this planned federal front, he said that efforts are being made to include all parties to fight the BJP as it would be wrong to leave out any particular party.

He also said that it is too early to talk about Mamata Banerjee being the PM face as not even the date of elections have been announced yet, but when pressed, he said the opposition will defeat BJP and Mamata would move to Delhi.

“See even didi (Mamata) took a step back when you asked this question (on who will be Prime Ministerial face). Didi is doing well in Bengal and we will request her to be in Delhi when the time comes," he said.

Rumours of Banerjee being among the frontrunners to be the PM face of the opposition alliance have gathered steam in the last couple of weeks. Sources close to Congress president Rahul Gandhi have also told News18 that he is not opposed to backing an ally’s leader for the post despite the clamour within his party to take the lead role.

The West Bengal CM has been trying to stitch together a federal front of regional parties to take on the BJP in the next general election. But many in the Opposition have remained sceptical about her efforts.

She will also visit Delhi for three days next week to personally invite opposition leaders to the "federal front" rally she plans to hold in January in Kolkata, according to party sources.

While speaking to reporters on Friday, Mamata did not reveal much about her plans. "Please don’t pick and choose individual names to divide us. Our intention is very clear. The way central government is ruling, we can’t tolerate. We will fight against the BJP. We can’t sacrifice our country nor our people. It is a fight for 2019 against BJP,” she said.

In a sign of cooperation between the two parties, Omar also said that issues concerning J&K will be raised in the Parliament by TMC MP Derek O’Brien as the National Conference does not have any representation House right now.
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