Mamata reaches Delhi, expected to meet opposition leaders
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reached New Delhi on Monday amid speculation about her attempt to unite the opposition ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
For the first time since her election victory in Bengal, Banerjee is expected to meet with various opposition leaders over the next three days in Delhi. She is also likely to meet prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday besides also meeting president Ram Nath Kovind during her stay.
This will be her first meeting with Modi since their tense encounter in Bengal when the chief minister skipped the PM’s cyclone review meeting in May.
Banerjee’s meetings are of great significance in the opposition's attempts to take on the BJP in the 2024 elections.
According to sources, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has invited Banerjee to tea, but no date has been confirmed.
Dismissing reports that Banerjee was planning to host a tea for opposition leaders, a Trinamool Congress leader said she is likely to have one-on-one chats with them.
Banerjee was last week named leader of the Trinamool parliamentary party though she is not an MP; the new role signals her readiness to play a larger role in national politics beyond Bengal.
In a virtual speech on July 21 to an audience that included Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader P Chidambaram, Banerjee appealed for unity. She said people would not forgive the opposition parties if they did not bury their differences and unite against the BJP.
Others present at that online meet were DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader Keshav Rao, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s Sanjay Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal's Balwinder Singh Bunder.
Banerjee is also likely to go to Parliament, where the monsoon session has been marked by disruptions over the Pegasus “snooping scandal” besides other flashpoints.
Banerjee on Monday announced the country’s first judicial inquiry headed by former judges into the Pegasus case, in which several opposition leaders, journalists and others have been revealed as potential targets of Israeli company NSO's Pegasus spyware, which is sold only to governments.
The chief minister’s nephew and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee is among those named as potential targets from a leaked database of NSO. She said several other Bengal leaders were targeted.
The Congress recently tweeted on Mr Banerjee being targeted with the phone snoop spyware. Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien retweeted that with the comment “khela hobe” — the Trinamool’s wildly popular assembly election anthem that means ‘game on’.