Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and is likely to call on her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik next week, sparking speculation of the TMC supremo leading an initiative to forge an alliance of regional parties against the BJP while maintaining distance with the Congress.
Akhilesh Yadav and senior Samajwadi Party leaders, inlcuding Shivpal Singh Yadav, meet the Bengal CM at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata. Both the leaders agreed to maintain distance from Congress and BJP as they discussed strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
The SP chief lauded Banerjee for defeating the BJP in the West Bengal Assembly election in 2021.
Akhilesh had lent his party’s support to the TMC during the 2021 West Bengal assembly poll by not fielding any candidate. In return, Banerjee campaigned for the former CM in Uttar Pradesh during the 2022 election in that state.
The agenda of the meeting between the two Opposition leaders was made clear by Akhilesh Yadav earlier in the day.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of his party’s workers’ meet, Yadav said the Samajwadi Party would maintain equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP.
The SP chief said the party would stand firmly with Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee to defeat the saffron camp, PTI reported.
“In Bengal, we are with Mamata didi. Right now, our stand is we want to maintain equidistance from both the BJP and the Congress” he said.
Earlier, while speaking at the SP workers’ meeting, Akhilesh flayed the BJP-led Central government for allegedly selling the country’s assets to foreign powers and private players.
“The Samajwadi Party is ready to make any sacrifice to protect our Constitution. If we can defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP can be defeated across the country, ” PTI quoted Akhilesh as saying.
On the other hand, addressing a press conference, TMC leader and Lok Sabha MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay reiterated that the party would go its own way.
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