The Trinamool Congress will fight the national election next year "alone with people's support", party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared today, virtually punching a 42-seat hole in the opposition alliance for 2024 even before it took off.
Accusing the CPM and the Congress of having a "setting" with the BJP, she said, "If there are unholy alliances, how will Congress fight with BJP? How will Left fight the BJP... How are CPM and Congress claiming to be anti-BJP?"
The reference was to the by-election in Bengal's Sardighi, where the Congress wrested the assembly seat from the ruling Trinamool.
The Congress, Left and the BJP all have played the "communal card" in Sardighi, Ms Banerjee said. The difference is that the "BJP has played it openly, but CPM and the Congress have played it to a greater extent".
It was, she said, a lesson that "we should not listen to CPM or the Congress... The ones that work with BJP, we cannot ally with them".
"In 2024, we will see an alliance between Trinamool and the people. We will not go with any of the other political parties. We will fight alone with people's support," Ms Banerjee added in a statement.
Back in 2019, the Bengal leader had been one of the key interlocutors for an opposition alliance. But not only did it fall through, the BJP made vast inroads in her state, winning 18 of the 42 parliamentary seats in a sharp reality check.
Since then, Ms Banerjee has been focussing increasingly on Bengal, her participation in any opposition show of strength dwindling almost to nil.
In 2021, it brought her a third term with a sweeping victory, and an increased urge to spread her wings beyond the state. But not many of her ventures outside the state have brought positive results. The Trinamool failed to open account in Goa and again today in Tripura. The party, though, won five seats in Meghalaya.
Since 2021, Ms Banerjee has been seen by many as having Prime Ministerial aspirations – along with her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Telangana's K Chandrasekhar Rao.
But today, the Chief Minister focussed only on her anti-BJP credentials – and local opponents CPM and the Congress.
"Those who want to defeat BJP, I believe they will vote for us… Trinamool Congress is enough to fight these three forces together. We have done that in 2021 Bengal assembly elections, we will do it again. There is no need to worry," she said.