Pushing her national agenda, Mamata meets regional satraps

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday renewed her efforts for opposition unity as she met with party leaders from across the opposition spectrum during her day in Parliament House.

Banerjee visited Parliament on Tuesday where she met Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. "We are all friends", she said. The Trinamool Congress chief's visit to New Delhi is seen as a bid to assemble forces against the BJP in the run-up to 2019.

Banerjee is seen as a key player in the possible grouping of non-BJP political parties ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.

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On meeting Sonia Gandhi, with whom the Trinamool Congress shares a warm rapport, Mamata said that she would meet the UPA chief "once she is fine". Like the Telugu Desam Party is the strongest in Andhra Pradesh, DMK in Tamil Nadu, K Chandrasekhar Rao in Telangana, Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar and Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal in Odisha, she said by way of examples.

Ms Banerjee had skipped dinner meet of 19 opposition parties hosted by Sonia Gandhi earlier this month but had nominated her colleague Sudip Bandyopadhyay for the same. "It should be one fight", the TMC chief told reporters.

She asserted that all opposition parties should work together to oust the saffron party. "I worked 23 years for the Parliament, I know this country very well", said Banerjee.

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The BJP has been criticised by current Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee saying that the ruling NDA government led by Narendra Modi has a huge difference with the former NDA government led by late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Issues like demonetisation, GST, bank fraud have affected people even at the grassroot level. "Let her recover. I do not want to disturb her". "The time has come for this BJP to pack up and go", she said. "Tomorrow there will be a meeting in the central hall, then we will talk", Mamata had stated.

"Will certainly go if they (Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav) call us to Lucknow", she said.

TMC sources told ThePrint that, after the meetings in Delhi, Mamata will try to reach out to regional parties such as the TDP, a former BJP ally, and the BJD in order to explore the possibility of getting them on board the idea.

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There have been suggestions that the opposition parties should put up common candidates against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

  • Kelly Blake