Watch: The Many Meanings of Mamata’s “One-On-One” Game for 2019

What does Mamata Banerjee’s many political meetings in New Delhi mean for her 2019 game?

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“All Opposition parties must set their regional differences aside and come together under one roof, if they are to stall the Bharatiya Janata Party from returning to power in 2019,” noted The Quint’s Editorial Director Sanjay Pugalia.

Speaking on the political buzz around West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with several leaders in New Delhi, Pugalia maintained that although Mamata is a key player with eyes set on 2019, she must keep a host of factors in mind to ensure that her strategy works.

Banerjee, although strongly rooted in Bengal, must keep the Congress onboard for several reasons. Despite its many electoral setbacks, the Congress still remains a formidable force in Indian politics. Hence, any attempt to unite the Opposition must include the party, he said.

Secondly, the Congress can either aid or oppose Mamata’s Trinamool Congress in Bengal and turn polls in the state into a triangular contest. The Congress can enter into a tactical alliance with the TMC and convince the CPI(M) as well to put up an united fight against the BJP in Bengal. Without the Congress’ hand, TMC and the CPI(M) will be left facing each other off, thereby fragmenting the Opposition’s vote share.

If Bengal becomes a triangular contest between theTMC, CPI(M) and the BJP, it will lead to a split of the Opposition vote against BJP and help the saffron party replace CPI(M) as principal opposition in the state.

But will Mamata’s meeting with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi yield desirable results? That’s where NCP boss Sharad Pawar comes in. Pugalia feels that Pawar is a natural unifier of Opposition parties, owing to his stature in national politics.

Mamata could reach out to Pawar, who in-turn, could convince the Congress to form a tactical alliance in Bengal, keeping the Left in check. This would help Mamata in implementing her “one-on-one” model, where one candidate of an united Opposition takes on the BJP’s aspitant in a face-to-face contest.

But there’s more. Mamata could do in Maharashtra what Pawar could do for the TMC in Bengal. In this barter system, Mamata could reach out to the likes of Sanjay Raut and broker a tactical alliance between the Shiv Sena and the NCP.

Inspite of being an ally, the Sena has increasingly been critical of the BJP and has often spoken of fighting alone in 2019. If the NCP and Sena join hands in Maharashtra, the model of a “one-on-one” fight could be replicated in the state as well.

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