RJD's Tejashwi Yadav with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee
RJD's Tejashwi Yadav with West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee
File Photo

Patna: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, will expand its base in West Bengal by extending support to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), headed by Mamta Banerjee, in the assembly elections.

Preliminary talks have started in Kolkata on Sunday between senior leaders of the RJD and the TMC.

Two senior RJD leaders -- Abdul Bari Sidiqqui, a former leader of opposition and Shyam Rajak, vice-president of the party -- met Prashant Kishore, the election planner hired by the TMC, in Kolkata on Sunday.

The two leaders from Patna have been given an appointment by the chief minister of West Bengal at 11 AM on Monday.

The two leaders told the Free Press Journal over phone from Kolkata that negotiations are at a primary stage and that any concrete decisions would only be taken after meeting Mamta Banerjee.

When asked whether RJD would contest the assembly elections in West Bengal, the two leaders said, "We will submit our report to the party high command, and any decision would be taken by the party. We would inform the leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as well."

Notably, Prashant Kishore had talked to Tejaswhi yesterday and requested him to send two leaders to Kolkata for talks with Mamata.

The TMC purportedly wants to utilise the support base of Lalu Prasad Yadav among the Muslims and the Yadavs in the upcoming elections.

Muslims, who constitute 30% of the total electorate in West Bengal, play a major role in deciding the political fortunes of the candidates.

In some constitutencies like Murshibad, they constitute 51%, North Dinajpur 50%, Birbhum 37%, and South Parganas 36%.

Akhilesh Yadav, president of the Samajwadi Party (SP), has alreadt declared that his party will support the TMC in the upcoming Bengal elections and announced that he would himself campaign there.

With the RJD too entering the fray in support of Mamta Banerjee, the TMC can now expect to make inroads into the Yadav's noted Muslim-Yadav (MY) vote bank.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Mamata Banerjee wants to keep her support base among the Muslims intact and expand it by including the Yadavs, who are considered trusted supporters of Lalu.

In the constitutencies adjoining Bihar and Jharkhand, there are many constitutencies dominated by both Muslims and Yadavs.

Sidiqqui said they had come to Kolkata on the suggestion of Tejaswhi Yadav with the approval of party president Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Though admitted in at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, Lalu has been taking interest in the political developments in West Bengal, according to Shyam Rajak.

He said, "Lalu-ji wants anti-BJP votes to not be divided, hence the RJD would support the TMC".

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