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11 Aug 2017

At Delhi meet, Didi to help opposition take the fight to BJP

TNN | Aug 11, 2017, NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: Mamata Banerjee, who has already spelt out her 'BJP Quit India' agitation plans on Wednesday, is expected to play a key role alongside Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as opposition parties chalk out a joint strategy to take on the ruling BJP outside Parliament.
An indication to this effect was evident when Sonia on Thursday evening dispatched her political secretary Ahmed Patel to meet the West Bengal chief minister to firm up a coordinated strategy before all the parties meet in the Parliament annxe on Friday, incidentally the last day of the monsoon session.
Before leaving for New Delhi on Thursday afternoon, the Trinamool Congress chief said at the Kolkata airport: "It is a protocol to meet the new President. I will meet him today (Thursday) evening in Delhi."
"Tomorrow (Friday), there is a meeting of opposition parties. I will be present there," Banerjee added.
Reaching Delhi, her first stop was expectedly Rashtrapati Bhavan. "Today I called on the Hon'ble President of India to pay my courtesies. It was a wonderful meeting," Banerjee later wrote on Facebook. "I have extended a hearty invitation to the Hon'ble President to visit Kolkata," she further wrote.
Behind the pleasantries, politics firmly topped the CM's agenda. According to a senior Trinamool leader, "till now the opposition parties had met at the behest of the Congress president to discuss and firm up their strategies on floor coordination and the just-concluded elections for the posts of President and Vice President".
"However, a need was felt to extend this alliance beyond the corridors of Parliament to the ground where the real battle will be fought in the run-up to the 2019 elections," he added. "Hence, the Friday meeting. The meeting will try to finalise a state-wise campaign against the ruling NDA till the next Parliament session in November."
Banerjee will be visiting Bihar and Jharkhand by the end of August to spread the anti-BJP message. "I will be going to Bihar on August 27 to attend a public meeting with Lalu Prasad. From there, I will reach Jharkhand on August 31, where lands of the adivasis are being taken away," the Trinamool chief had said on Wednesday in Midnapore in a bid to take a big leap forward in national politics. She had also welcomed Ahmed Patel's win in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls in which "democracy has won over autocracy".
However, as opposition parties try to chart a roadmap for the way ahead, Bengal's own political compulsions may be an impediment for parties to forge an alliance back home. The Left and Congress, which had unitedly tried to oppose the ruling Trinamool in Bengal, first tasted the wedge when a Congress candidate won the Rajya Sabha polls in Bengal with Trinamool support.
The Bengal Congress leadership apprehends that any alliance with Trinamool will only dent the party's pocket boroughs and stifle its voice. The Congress high command, however, now needs Banerjee to help its anti-BJP pitch resonate powerfully. The need is all the more, sources said, as Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has dumped the opposition alliance and joined hands with NDA.

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