In a bid to unite the Opposition against the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is on a four-day tour to the national capital, will meet several leaders on Wednesday, including interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar.
Speaking to the media after her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Banerjee said, “Opposition unity will take shape on its own,” making it obvious that she will leave no stone unturned to build a political front against the BJP.
When asked if she will lead such a consortium of Opposition parties, Banerjee said, “India will lead and we shall follow.”
The Chief Minister, who is hopeful that the regional parties will play an important role in developing the political front against the BJP, said, “The Lok Sabha elections are less than three years away and we should not waste time. We should join hands and fight the BJP together. The preparations should begin right away”.
Sources close to the Chief Minister said that Banerjee will meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at 4.30 p.m. at the latter’s residence.
“She will also meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and NCP leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday,” the sources said.
The Chief Minister, however, is not very sure about her meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind.
“President Kovind gave me time but there are some rules. I need to have two doses of vaccine and an RT-PCR negative report. I have completed two doses of vaccination, but from where do I get my test done? I am an outsider in Delhi. So if I can’t meet him this time, I shall try the next time,” she said.
Prior to meeting Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, the Bengal CM met several senior Congress leaders on Tuesday, including Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, in an apparent attempt to prepare the ground for meet the Congress top boss.
“If Opposition unity is to be a reality, the Congress will be a very important factor and Mamata Banerjee will definitely try to take the Congress on board. Her meeting with Sonia Gandhi is very significant because it can shape the future political scenario in the country,” a senior Trinamool Congress leader said.
Another senior Trinamool leader said that while the meetings with the President and the Prime Minister were formalities, Banerjee’s visit this time was planned with a larger Opposition plan in mind ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“I think it is clear to everyone in the Opposition that 2024 will see a very crucial election, which will be a big challenge. It is also a good sign that seriousness has set in now, when there is time to fight, and iron out the chinks, as they say,” the Trinamool leader said.