"I Can't Go As...": Mamata Banerjee On Skipping INDIA Bloc Meet Before Poll Results

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has reportedly convened a meeting of the INDIA bloc leaders on June 1, coinciding with the last round of polling for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

'I Can't Go As...': Mamata Banerjee On Skipping INDIA Bloc Meet Before Poll Results

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New Delhi/ Kolkata:

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she will not attend the meeting of the INDIA bloc on June 1 due to the last phase of Lok Sabha polls and ongoing relief work after cyclone 'Remal' hit the state's coastal regions.

According to sources, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has convened a meeting of the INDIA bloc leaders in the afternoon of June 1, coinciding with the last round of polling.

Addressing an election rally in Kolkata, Ms Banerjee mentioned her inability to attend the INDIA bloc meeting due to the scheduled elections in the state on that day.

"The INDIA bloc meeting has been fixed on June 1. But I have already said I can't go on June 1 as there is an election in our state on that day. So far I know there are elections in Punjab, UP and Bihar. Voting will continue till 6 pm, and at times it extends beyond that (6 pm)," she said.

Ms Banerjee highlighted the dual challenges of post-cyclone relief work and ongoing elections, emphasising her priority towards relief efforts.

"How can I leave everything behind and go? My priority is relief work. Even if I am holding a meeting here, my heart goes out to those people (affected by the cyclone)," she said at the Kolkata rally.

Cyclone Remal, with wind speed reaching 135 kmph, claimed four lives in West Bengal and caused extensive damage to infrastructure and property in the state's coastal areas as it tore through West Bengal and Bangladesh, officials reported on Monday.

The TMC had withdrawn from the INDIA bloc in West Bengal in January but affirmed its commitment to remain part of the opposition alliance at the national level.

During the election campaigns in the last two months, Ms Banerjee had expressed confidence that the INDIA bloc would win the Lok Sabha elections and affirmed her involvement in the anti-BJP alliance at the national level.

Sources in the TMC revealed that voting will be conducted on nine seats, including two seats in Kolkata, in West Bengal on June 1, which are crucial for the party.

Apart from the Kolkata Dakshin and Kolkata Uttar, other constituencies in the state that will go to polls on that day include Jadavpur, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jayanagar, Mathurapur and Diamond Harbour.

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, its national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and other top leaders will exercise their franchise on the day, and, therefore, they will be unable to attend the meeting, a source said, adding that the party has attended all meetings of the opposition bloc so far.

The source added that the TMC has conveyed this to the organisers.

The first meeting of the opposition bloc Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) was held in Patna on June 23 last year, followed by meetings in Bengaluru on July 17-18, 2023, and in Mumbai between August 31 and September 1, where the opposition parties adopted resolutions to contest the Lok Sabha elections unitedly.

The fourth meeting of the opposition bloc was held in Delhi on December 19.

The next gathering of opposition leaders took place in Delhi on March 31, where top leaders shared the stage at the "Save Democracy" rally held against the arrests of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. A similar 'Ulgulan' rally was held in Ranchi on April 21.

The TMC has been part of all these meetings and rallies.

At the March 31 rally in Delhi, TMC's parliamentary party leader in Rajya Sabha, Derek O'Brien, announced that the party would remain part of the INDIA bloc.

The TMC, which is in power in West Bengal, does not have any seat-sharing deal with the Congress or any other INDIA bloc partner in its home state. But its candidate Laliteshpati Tripathi in Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi has been supported by ally Samajwadi Party.

Twenty-eight opposition parties came together to form the INDIA bloc. However, some parties such as Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) later switched over to the NDA.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)