MAMATA BANERJEE

New Delhi: Looking to strengthen the potential “federal front” as a strong opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to meet senior BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, along with Arun Shourie, in New Delhi on Wednesday. This development comes a day after Banerjee met various opposition leaders, including National Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, to discuss prospects of forming a third front, ANI reported.

“Yes, Sonia (Gandhi) 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,” Banerjee said, according to ANI. All three leaders in the past have been vocal about their criticism of Narendra Modi government’s policies.

The Trinamool Congress leader, who is on a four-day visit to Delhi, also expressed her willingness to meet BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow, should they invite her. “Will certainly go meet if they (Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav) call us for a meeting to Lucknow,” she told reporters.

On Tuesday, Banerjee met leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiv Sena, the Rashtriya Janata Dal as well as MPs from several other opposition parties. Speaking to reporters after her meetings, Mamata minced no words in saying the agenda of the talks was 2019 General Elections.

“When political people meet then, of course, they will discuss politics. There is nothing to hide. The Lok Sabha election of 2019 will certainly be very interesting,” Mamata said, dropping hints that her talks with opposition leaders had been fruitful. There has been speculation that political parties that have been spearheading the third front campaign are averse to the Congress being part of such an alliance. TRS supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who had called on the TMC chief in Kolkata earlier this month, had hinted that he was in favor of a non-Congress alliance or federal front to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party next year.

Mamata’s meetings with other opposition leaders come at a time when several parties including former NDA ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have come together to move no-confidence motions in Parliament against the Narendra Modi-led government. These motions have so far not been taken up in the Lok Sabha amid continuing ruckus.

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