Mamta Banerjee to visit Delhi, meet opposition for Parliament’s strategy

Mamata Banerjee is seen by some as a possible candidate against PM Modi in 2024 (File)

New Delhi:

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will visit Delhi from November 22 to 25, with the winter session of Parliament scheduled to begin on November 29.

Sources said the Trinamool chief will meet opposition leaders to discuss strategies to take on the BJP in another explosive session – in which the repeal of agricultural laws will play a key role.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yesterday that the laws would be repealed, prompting 15 months of fierce protests by farmers — passed in Parliament last year amid an uproar in the three agricultural laws.

A formal process of scrapping the laws is expected in this session.

Ms Banerjee tweeted, “Heartfelt congratulations to every farmer”, expressed condolences to the families of the farmers who died, and slammed the BJP for the “brutalism” meted out to the protesters.

News agency PTI said this week that Mamata Banerjee may also meet Prime Minister Modi. The two are expected to discuss issues such as the Centre’s controversial increase in the jurisdiction of the BSF.

Last month Ms Banerjee wrote to PM Modi on the subject and slammed it as an attempt to interfere in the federal structure of the country. The Center had increased the BSF’s jurisdiction to 50 km from the International Border in Bengal, Punjab and Assam, which was earlier strongly criticized by the two states.

Assam is ruled by BJP. Punjab, where Congress is in power, will go to polls next year.

Ms Banerjee had last visited Delhi in July – her first visit to the national capital since the Trinamool’s resounding victory over the BJP in the April-May Bengal elections.

Even then opposition unity was on the agenda; The Bengal chief minister had earlier made a pitch for it in speeches by top leaders including Congress’s P Chidambaram and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav.

Ms Banerjee also met Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi was also present in the crucial talks as both the parties sought common ground ahead of the 2024 elections.

“We discussed opposition unity. It was a very good meeting, a positive meeting. Everyone needs to come together to defeat the BJP. Everyone has to work together,” Banerjee said.

His Bengal victory propelled him to become the face of a unified national opposition to PM Modi and the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Since then, the Trinamool has been testing the waters outside Bengal, with Abhishek Banerjee in Tripura (who votes in 2023) and chief minister campaigning in Goa (who votes in 2022).

Ms Banerjee has since been talked about as a possible prime ministerial candidate as well.

But speaking to NDTV in May she was cautious, saying: Sometimes you just can’t decide everything. It’s different at election time. There should be a common minimum programme.”

In August, Mrs Gandhi hosted another meeting of opposition leaders. Ms Banerjee was at that meeting (held virtually), as were her counterparts from Tamil Nadu (MK Stalin), Maharashtra (Uddhav Thackeray) and Jharkhand (Hemant Soren), and the RJD, NCP and Left.

Amid intense speculation about who would lead the opposition in the fight against the BJP, Ms Banerjee had said, “Forget who the leader is, put aside your personal interests.”

With input from PTI

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