The two-day national executive meeting of the Samajwadi Party started in Kolkata on Saturday, where the party is set to discuss its policies and strategies for assembly elections in the three Hindi heartland states later this year and Lok Sabha polls next year.
Senior party leaders including national president Akhilesh Yadav, MPs Ram Gopal Yadav, Jaya Bachchan and MLA Shivpal Yadav are in the city for the meeting.
समाजवादी पार्टी “राष्ट्रीय कार्यकारिणी” की दो दिवसीय बैठक कोलकाता में प्रारंभ हुई। pic.twitter.com/qJfnpWJy6U— Samajwadi Party (@samajwadiparty) March 18, 2023
The party’s national executive is being held in Kolkata after a gap of 11 years, after Samajwadi Party founder, the late Mulayam Singh Yadav had flown down to the city to chair the previous meeting in the eastern metropolis in 2012.
“We will discuss the party’s strategies for the upcoming elections later this year in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and then the Lok Sabha polls in 2024,” Kiranmoy Nanda, party’s national vice-president had said earlier.
Akhilesh Meets Mamata
Ahead of the national executive today, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav met at the former’s Kalighat residence at 5 pm on Friday for an hour-long closed-door meeting.
While neither leader made any formal comments after the meeting, Akhilesh later tweeted pictures for their meetup saying, “Had a meeting with everyone’s lovable Didi today.”
माननीय राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष श्री अखिलेश यादव जी ने पार्टी के वरिष्ठ नेताओं के साथ पश्चिम बंगाल की मुख्यमंत्री ममता बनर्जी जी के आवास पर की शिष्टाचार भेंट। pic.twitter.com/i0cv6GqOTZ— Samajwadi Party (@samajwadiparty) March 17, 2023
However, if media reports are to be believed, Akhilesh Yadav has reportedly expressed solidarity with Trinamool Congress’ over its move to forge an Opposition alliance against BJP without having Congress in the group. The Samajwadi Party chief reportedly assured Banerjee on this count during their meeting.
‘Congress-Less’ alliance on cards?
The meeting is seen as a ground for an opposition alliance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to fight the BJP without having Congress on board.
Following Mamata and Akhilesh’s meeting, the Trinamool Congress on Friday made it clear that there is no requirement of having any kind of coordination with the Congress, considering the latter’s political approach in West Bengal.
“Congress’s role as a perfect opposition to the BJP is not questionable. In West Bengal, the Congress is having an understanding with both the CPI-M and the BJP to create problems for Trinamool Congress and the state government,” Trinamool’s leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay told newspersons after a meeting of the party’s top leadership in the city.
“On one hand, the Congress will seek the support of Trinamool Congress at the national level and on the other hand at the state-level in West Bengal, they will oppose us. The two things can’t go side by side,” he said.
He also said that precisely that is why the Trinamool is refraining from floor coordination on the floor of Parliament with Congress.
Asked whether the Trinamool Congress is moving forward for a third-front formula, Bandopadhyay said that although it is too early to comment on this possibility, attempts will be made to coordinate with the regional parties having substantial strength in their respective states.
“Today our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be having a meeting with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. This month she will be going to Odisha and have a meeting with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. After that the chief minister will go to New Delhi to meet the leaders of other regional parties,” Bandopadhyay said.
Claiming that Congress is not playing the role of an ideal national opposition party, Bandopadhyay said that it is trying to play the role of “Big Boss” without respecting the sentiments of the regional parties.
Samajwadi Party’s Statement
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party said it will work unitedly with TMC to fight against the BJP nationally.
“It has been decided that the TMC and the SP would work unitedly to fight the BJP. Both the parties would also maintain distance from the Congress,” senior SP leader Kiranmoy Nanda said after Yadav’s meeting with West Bengal CM.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav said that his party is following a policy of maintaining distance from both the BJP and the Congress. He told reporters that regional parties will chart their course of action in the days to come.
“We share a very cordial relationship with Mamata Banerjee. Naturally, the present political situation of the country was discussed during the meeting,” he said.
When asked about the role of the Congress in the opposition front, Yadav said the grand old party has to decide this on its own.
“Regional parties are competent enough to decide their roles. the Congress has to decide its role. Nobody should take any step which might have any adverse impact (on fighting the BJP),” he said while adding there are several faces in the opposition camp who can become the prime minister.
Yadav had lent his party’s support to the TMC during the 2021 West Bengal assembly poll, which was reciprocated by Banerjee when she campaigned for the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister during the 2022 election in that state.
Mamata’s Big Plan
West Bengal CM Banerjee is scheduled to travel to Puri on March 21 to offer her prayers at the Jagannath Temple. During her visit, she would be calling on Biju Janata Dal supremo and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on March 23, where the two leaders are likely to discuss the prospects of developing an issue-based platform of regional parties minus the Congress.
Later, in April, Banerjee is also likely to attend a meeting of opposition leaders in Delhi convened by Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
Last week, leaders of eight opposition parties, including Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi complaining that the central agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate are specially targeting the opposition parties in the country in a biased manner. However, there was no signatory from Congress or the Left parties in that letter.
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