Mamata Banerjee meets opposition MPs, says it’s time for BJP to pack up and go


New Delhi, March 27: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in the national capital on Tuesday, triggering speculation that she is trying to galvanise opposition parties for a united fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 parliamentary polls.
Banerjee, who heads the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, met Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut as well. The meeting assumes significance as the Shiv Sena, the BJP’s embittered ally in Maharashtra, has announced to break the tie-up before 2019.
“When political people meet, they will discuss politics of course. There is nothing to hide. The Lok Sabha elections of 2019 will certainly be very interesting,” Banerjee said after visiting Parliament and meeting MPs of several opposition parties.
Banerjee is seen as a key player in a possible grouping of non-BJP political parties ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections. 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.
The chief minister said issues such as demonetisation and bank frauds have affected the common people and it was time for the BJP to “pack up and go”.
“We want all opposition parties to work together. We should help the strongest opposition party in the state to fight the BJP. It should be one fight,” she said.
She also met Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) parliamentarian K Kavitha, the daughter of Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR. The TRS is upset with the BJP-led government at the Centre for ignoring its demand for hiked quota for Telangana.
Banerjee is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi, the former chief of the Congress, the party the West Bengal leader broke away from to launch the Trinamool Congress.
“Yes, Soniaji is not well right now and recovering. We will meet her once she is fine. Will certainly go if they (Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav) call us to Lucknow,” she said.
The West Bengal chief minister is also expected to meet rebel BJP leaders Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and former Union minister Arun Shourie — all bitter critics of the BJP’s new leadership and its policies.
Uttar Pradesh arch-rivals Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, who head the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party respectively, joined hands in two bypolls and the Rajya Sabha polls in the state this March. The two parties are said to be discussing a possible alliance for 2019.
Banerjee’s meetings on Tuesday came at a time opposition parties as well as former BJP ally Telugu Desam party (TDP) have come together to move a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.
The TDP has recently ended its four-year alliance with the BJP over its demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh. (Agencies)