A day after West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee's remark of "no UPA left in the country" made headlines, several Congress leaders on Thursday, 2 December, reacted to say that there can be no viable Opposition without the party.
Banerjee had made the remarks after a meeting with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Speaking to ANI, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said that the fight of a united Opposition has to be against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Our fight is against the ruling party. Those who want to join us, they can, those who don't want to join us are free to do so," he said.
"Can any political alliance formed against BJP be without participation of Congress?" he added.
Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge said that the Opposition should not be divided. "We have tried to include them in various socio-political issues where the Congress made its name. The Opposition should not get divided and fight amongst themselves," he said, as quoted by ANI. Kapil Sibal too took to Twitter to say that the "UPA without a Congress will be like an Opposition without a soul."
What Mamata Said
After meeting Pawar, Banerjee on Wednesday said: "A firm alternative course should be made as nobody's fighting against ongoing fascism. Sharad Ji is the seniormost leader and I came to discuss our political parties."
"A strong alternative should be given against the way fascism is going on in the country today. No one can do this alone. We will support those who are powerful in their own region," she added.
Amid a cold war with the Congress, several took Banerjee's comments as a hint of an Opposition alliance without the Congress.
However, Pawar later said: "Be it Congress or any other party, the thing is that those who are against BJP, if they'll come together, they're welcome."
"Her intention is, in today's situation like-minded forces have to come together at national level & set up collective leadership," he added.