NEW DELHI (TIP): Soon after her emphatic return to power in West Bengal, CM Mamata Banerjee renewed talk of a third front by listing her non-BJP and non-Congress friends that “she could do business with”.

“I have friends such as Nitish Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Naveen Patnaik, Mayawati, Jayalalithaa and some others. I would sit and talk to them,” the TMC chief said, drawing positive, as well as muted and disinterested responses from key regional players. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said there was need for fresh alignment of political forces. “As Mamata-ji said, all like-minded parties should join hands like we did in Bihar.” His party spokesman K C Tyagi agreed, but also pointed out mutual differences among the third front. The Aam Aadmi Party said it was against any third-front idea. “There is undoubtedly a vacuum in terms of a worthy opposition to the BJP but we are not interested in joining hands with other parties,” said a party spokesman.

Naveen Patnaik-led BJD in Odisha said a federal front of regional parties was a necessity, while BSP’s Ram Achal Rajbhar sounded dismissive, “The BSP will contest UP assembly polls on its own and win with absolute majority.”

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal did not clearly support Mamata but said in 2019 it would be a coalition of regional parties that would come to power at the Centre.

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