Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Monday announced his party’s support to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress for the upcoming Assembly election in West Bengal as it seeks to expands its base in the state.
“We will lend support to Mamata Banerjee wherever needed. The priority is to stop the BJP at all costs. To save the country from those who are bent of destroying it,” said Yadav after meeting Banerjee at her Kalighat resident in Kolkata.
“We will do everything necessary to save the culture, heritage, languages and literatures of the country,” he added, adding this is not just about Bengal. “this is about the country, its Constitution and democracy.”
Thanking Yadav for his support, Banerjee said, “Tejaswi has done well in Bihar. The BJP cheated in Bihar and stopped him from winning (coming to power). The RJD was defeated by fraud. It will form government in Bihar sooner than later.”
She further said that jailed RJD supremo Lalu Yadav is like her father, who is being tortured in the jail. “If Tejasvi is fighting, then I am fighting. If I am fighting, then Tejasvi is fighting.” The BJP would not last in Bihar, neither is it going to BJP win in Bengal, Banerjee added.
The TMC president also urged the Election Commission to work impartially. “The EC should not be influenced by the BJP.”
Banerjee, who was expected to release the candidate list on Monday, is yet to make the announcement.
Banerjee and Yadav are scheduled to the seat sharing arrangement for the upcoming polls. RJD will be aiming at a significant percentage of Bihari vote share in Howrah, West Burdwan, parts of Kolkata and some bordering districts.
Tejashwi, who is also the leader of the opposition in Bihar, is targeting to contest on 10-12 assembly seats where the population from Bihar is ‘sizeable’ in numbers.
Sources said Yadav will visit Kalighat Temple and after offering prayers, he will meet TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim to discuss RJD’s plans for Bengal Assembly polls.
The TMC is likely to announce the name of the candidates for the first four phases of the Assembly Polls soon. Earlier in the day, Banerjee had called for an election committee meeting of the party.
On Sunday, senior RJD leaders Abdul Bari Sidiqqui and Shyam Rajak met TMC’s election planner Prashant Kishore in Kolkata for preliminary talks on a possible alliance in the state.
On the question of RJD contesting the assembly elections in West Bengal, Free Press Journal quoted the leaders saying, “We will submit our report to the party high command, and any decision would be taken by the party. We would inform the leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as well.”
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has already declared his party’s support to Mamata Banerjee in the state assembly polls.
Meanwhile, party insiders claimed that besides induction of new faces from the entertainment industry and sports, Mamata has selectively picked candidates with ‘clean image’ to contest against BJP’s ‘Lokkho Sonar Bangla’.
On February 26, the schedule for the much awaited high-voltage West Bengal Assembly polls were announced. The polls in Bengal will be held in eight phases. The first phase of polling in West Bengal will be on March 27, the second phase of polling will be on April 1, the third phase will be held April 6 and the fourth phase will be on April 10. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eight phases will be on April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29 respectively.
Term of West Bengal assembly will end on May 30 and out of 294 Assembly seats, there are 68 SC seats, and 16 seats are reserved for SC.
Soon after the dates were announced, Mamata hit back at the Election Commission for holding polls in eight phases in Bengal. She questioned, “It is done on instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?”