Hectic parleys are underway and Mamata Banerjee seems to be at the center of a grand plan to stitch an 'anti-BJP' front ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Banerjee, the West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief, is leaving no stone unturned to galvanise the opposition parties for a united fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The TMC supremo, who is in Delhi today, visited Parliament and met leaders of several opposition parties, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut. Banerjee is also scheduled to attend a dinner hosted by Pawar today, where discussions regarding forging an anti-BJP front are likely to take shape.
Is this new front in making keen to include the Congress or not is something that needs to be seen. Last week, TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao called on Banerjee in Kolkata and both stressed on the need for a front comprising of regional parties to stop the BJP. KCR had earlier called for a non-BJP and non-Congress front. Another thing to note is that Banerjee had skipped the dinner that was hosted by the UPA chief earlier this month.
Today's dinner is expected to be the second biggest gathering after Sonia Gandhi's dinner earlier this month, which was attended by 19 parties, including the CPI(M), NCP and Samajwadi Party. For that dinner, Banerjee had sent Sudip Bandopadhyay, citing personal work.
Banerjee is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi during her Delhi visit. BJP rebels Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha are also becoming a problem for the saffron party and it remains to be seen how the BJP would handle them. Banerjee is set to meet both Sinhas.
"Yes, Sonia ji is unwell right now and recovering, will meet her once she is fine.Tomorrow will meet Shatrughan Sinha ji, Yashwant Sinha ji, and Arun Shourie ji. Will certainly go if they (Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav) call us for a meeting to Lucknow," Banerjee said today (March 27).
Delhi: West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee met TRS MP K Kavitha earlier today pic.twitter.com/EfasBFrK8b— ANI (@ANI) March 27, 2018
Moves by the TDP, which recently severed ties with the NDA, will also be closely watched. Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is scheduled to visit Delhi next week and meet representatives of all political parties.
Shiv Sena is still part of the NDA but the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has been one of the most severe critics of the Modi government. Shiv Sena, one of oldest allies of the BJP, has time and again come out in the open to criticise the BJP. Sanjay Raut had even hinted that they may contest 2019 polls on their own.
But the question is still about the inclusion of Congress in this front. They may have been reduced to less than 50 seats in the Lok Sabha, but Congress is still a national party and seen as principle opposition to the BJP. Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily had last week said that any attempt form an anti-BJP front without Congress is "not desirable".