31 Mar 2021: Mamata Banerjee urges Sonia Gandhi, others to 'unite against BJP'
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today wrote to several key Opposition leaders including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, suggesting a large collaboration to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party after the ongoing round of Assembly polls.
The 66-year-old Trinamool Congress leader said in her letter that the time has come for a united struggle against the BJP's "attacks on democracy."
Here are more details.
Details: 'BJP wants to establish a one-party authoritarian rule'
"The BJP wants to make it impossible for non-BJP parties to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms. It wants to dilute the powers of the state governments and downgrade them to mere municipalities. In short, it wants to establish a one-party authoritarian rule in India," Banerjee wrote.
"What the BJP has done in Delhi is not an exception. It is increasingly becoming the rule."
Letter: Banerjee cited the controversial Delhi law for her arguments
In the letter, Banerjee presented seven instances of what she called the saffron party's "assaults" on democracy and cooperative federalism.
The list included the controversial new law that gives more power to Delhi's Lieutenant Governor compared to the city's elected government, the alleged misuse of the office of the Governor, the handling of central agencies like the CBI, and the "privatization of nation's assets."
Fact: 'Will work wholeheartedly in this battle'
"I strongly believe that the time has come for a united and effective struggle against BJP's attacks on democracy and the Constitution...As the chairperson of TMC, I shall work wholeheartedly with you and all other like-minded parties in this battle," Banerjee's letter further read.
Details: Letter also sent to Stalin, Thackeray, Kejriwal
Besides Gandhi, the letter was also sent to Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, DMK's MK Stalin, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, YSR Congress party founder Jagan Mohan Reddy, BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, and Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao.
Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and CPIML's Dipankar Bhattacharya also reportedly received the letter.
Previous attempts: A similar alliance was planned ahead of 2019 elections too
Earlier, prior to the 2019 general elections, Banerjee had been one of the key leaders of a unified Opposition meant to take on the BJP.
But that union fell through as the leaders failed to resolve their internal rivalries, particularly among the parties that are rivals at the state-level.
Since then, several attempts to bring Opposition parties together on various issues have also failed.
Elections: Elections due in five states and UTs
The ongoing elections in Bengal are being seen as a direct contest between Banerjee-led TMC and the BJP, which has seen a resurgence there in the recent past.
The voting in the state started on March 27 and will continue until April 29.
Meanwhile, Assembly elections are also due in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu.
The results will be declared on May 2.