West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced that she will not talk about the candidate for Prime Minister of India until the elections to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India. In a 180-degree turn less than 24 hours later, Mamata nominated Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge as the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition India Alliance in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The fourth meeting of India’s alliance against the country’s ruling political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun in Delhi. Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge also attended the meeting. According to multiple sources, Mamata Banerjee made the proposal in the ongoing meeting of the opposition alliance India. Mamata’s proposal to make Kharge the prime minister, being the prominent Dalit face of the opposition, received widespread support.
At least 12 of the parties that attended the meeting welcomed Mamta’s offer, the source told NDTV. Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal supported Mamata’s plan. He said that through this, India will get its first Dalit Prime Minister.
Sources in the meeting said, however, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge played down Mamata’s proposal. He said, he only wants to work for the poor.
When asked about this, Congress chief Kharge told reporters, “We have to win the elections first. The Prime Minister’s decision can be taken later. Earlier, the Congress-led opposition parties faced severe criticism from the ruling BJP for fielding candidates against Ram Nath Kovind and Draupadi Murmu, two members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, during the presidential election of India. The BJP also accused the Congress and other opposition parties of being anti-India’s Dalit and tribal communities.
The parties’ overwhelming support for Mamata’s bid as the opposition coalition’s candidate for Prime Minister of India is seen as an indication of Kharag’s status. On the other hand, this proposal is seen by many as somewhat insulting to Rahul Gandhi. The alliance parties are divided over the Congress leader becoming the candidate for the top post of the opposition alliance.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Kharge said the contentious issue of seat sharing would be resolved at the state level. If there is any obstacle in solving this issue, it will be raised at the central level.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and several other parties have set a deadline of December 31 for talks on seat-sharing with the opposition, NDTV quoted sources as saying.
28 parties of the opposition India Alliance participated in Tuesday’s meeting. Kharge said that they will hold several meetings in different cities of the country regarding the seat sharing of the opposition alliance. If we don’t do this, we will not be able to raise awareness among the people.