Opposition Rift Before Polls End, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati May Skip Meet

NEW DELHI: At least three key opposition leaders – Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and her ally Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav – are likely to skip the post-election opposition meet in Delhi that will be hosted by the Congress.

Sources said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who had gone to Bengal last week and met Mamata Banerjee, received a negative when they discussed the meet. There is no need for any meeting before the results come out on May 23, she told Mr Chandrababu Naidu, sources said. Negative responses have also come from Mayawati.

The reason, sources indicate, is the inevitable question of the Prime Minister’s post in case of a favourable result for the opposition. While all opposition leaders have so far carefully avoided questions on the top job for the sake of unity, both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee harbor prime ministerial ambition. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s name has already been proposed for the post by several leaders, including DMK chief MK Stalin.

Both have been avoiding close association with the Congress, staying out of an alliance with the Congress in their states, even if they are allies at the national level.

Mayawati has made no secret of her disdain of the Congress. Not only has she left the party out of the Uttar Pradesh alliance, over the last five months, she has repeatedly threatened to pull the rug from the Kamal Nath government, which has a wafer-thin majority in Madhya Pradesh.

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