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Mamata in Delhi, meets leaders to forge anti-BJP front

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on March 27, 2018 Published on March 27, 2018

Rainbow coalition? West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee with NCP President Sharad Pawar after a meeting at Parliament House on Tuesday   -  PTI

Trinamool chief makes it apparent that regional players will lead, not Congress

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s bonhomie with Opposition leaders and BJP ally Shiv Sena was conspicuous in Parliament on Tuesday, as was her cold-shouldering of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

While the West Bengal Chief Minister has even reached out to BJP dissidents Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha — she will meet the trio on Wednesday — there is no meeting scheduled with Rahul Gandhi. Banerjee only mentioned Sonia Gandhi, underlining that a meeting would happen “whenever Soniaji is well enough”. On whether she would meet Rahul, too, Mamata said: “We meet one leader from each party. I have said I will meet Soniaji.”

The Bengal CM’s statement came after a series of meetings with various political leaders in the Opposition. This included NCP chief Sharad Pawar, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharati, all MPs of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao’s daughter and MP K Kavitha, DMK MP Kanimozhi, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, and former NDA ally Raju Shetty of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana.

These meetings were described as efforts to forge an anti-BJP front in the run-up to the general elections. In Banerjee’s estimation, the “mood in Parliament is distinctly to wrap up the BJP’s tenure”.

Snub to Congress?

However, Banerjee clearly sees herself in a more prominent national role than the Congress President in the formation of such a front. Although in the recently-held Rajya Sabha elections in Bengal, her Trinamool Congress backed Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the Congress nominee, the TMC supremo would clearly like power to remain in the hands of provincial leaders in an anti-BJP front.

Hails Maya-Akhilesh ties

Her posturing in Parliament held a clear message for the Congress to leave the turf alone for the regional chieftains. “I think we need to support whoever is strong in whichever region to drive out the BJP. The DMK is very strong in Tamil Nadu and we all need to support them there. Chandrababu Naiduji is doing well in Andhra Pradesh. I think the most wonderful development is in Uttar Pradesh where Mayawatiji and Akhilesh Yadav have come together,” she said.

Banerjee said she wanted the Opposition to meet in UP if Mayawati and Akhilesh are willing to host them. “If such a meeting is called by Mayawatiji and Akhilesh Yadav, we should all go there. It is a big thing that they are coming together,” she said.

Banerjee was belligerent against the BJP which, she said, ran a “dictatorial, anti-people and communal government”.

“Yes I have met people in the Shiv Sena because there is no party more communal than the BJP. They are running the country as if they will stay in power forever. I would like to remind our officers in the central investigating agencies that their first duty is towards the Constitution and the Rule of Law and not their immediate masters. The way Opposition leaders are being harassed is proof that the BJP wants to annihilate us. They have no friends left except perhaps Ramvilas Paswan,” she said.

Published on March 27, 2018
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