Shiv Sena takes dim view of Mamata’s ‘no UPA’ remark, bats for Congress-led alliance

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In a snub to Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee, the Shiv Sena on Saturday said creating an opposition alliance parallel to the UPA without Congress is akin to strengthening the ruling BJP and the “fascist” forces.

In an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Sena also said that those who don’t want a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) should make their stand clear publicly, instead of creating confusion by talking behind back.

“After Mamata Banerjee’s Mumbai visit, the opposition parties have swung into action. There is a consensus on creating a strong alternative to the BJP, but there is a lot of discussion happening on who is to be taken along and who is to be kept away from this alliance. But if there is no unanimity, nobody should talk about taking on the BJP. Leadership is a secondary issue, but there should at least be a decision on coming together,” the Sena, which shares power with the Congress and the NCP in Maharashtra, said.

“One can understand that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP work for the defeat of the Congress since it is a part of their agenda. But if even those who are against Modi and the BJP wish ill of the Congress, then it is the biggest threat,” it added.

The development comes just days after Mamata Banerjee met Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray as well as party MP Sanjay Raut during her visit to Mumbai. Banerjee made it clear she was keen to build ties with Shiv Sena and NCP. After his meeting with the TMC leader, Aaditya said the two parties had an old friendship, and that they would work to strengthen these ties.

In the last few days, Banerjee has stepped up her efforts to expand the TMC’s national footprint by contesting elections outside West Bengal and build an Opposition front without Congress.

Recently after meeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar, she said that “there is no UPA now” and it will be “very easy to defeat the BJP” if “all regional parties are together”. Asked whether Pawar would lead the UPA, she said: “What UPA? There is no UPA now. We will decide on it together.”

Sharpening the attack on Congress, Political strategist Prashant Kishor, who manages TMC’s electoral forays, recently said the Congress’s leadership of the Opposition is not the “divine right of an individual, especially when the party has lost more than 90 per cent elections in last 10 years”. Let Opposition leadership, he said, be decided “democratically”.

TMC’s mouthpiece, Jago Bangla, Friday hailed Banerjee as the “most accepted Opposition face, popular face” and published an editorial with a headline which, when translated from Bengali, said ‘Congress in Deep Freezer’.

(With PTI inputs)



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