Mamata Banerjee met with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi today in their first interaction since the two parties contested as rivals in the Bengal election in April-May. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was also present in the talks that are significant amid opposition moves to join forces for a united fight in the 2024 national election.
“Sonia ji invited me for a cup of tea and Rahul ji is also there. We discussed Pegasus and the Covid situation in the country. We also discussed the unity of the opposition. It was a very good meeting, positive meeting. To defeat the BJP, everybody needs to come together. Everyone will have to work together,” Ms Banerjee said after the 45-minute interaction with Sonia Gandhi, with whom she has always had cordial ties.
The Bengal Chief Minister, in Delhi for five days, had met with senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Anand Sharma yesterday. After the Gandhis, Ms Banerjee also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Since her Bengal victory, Mamata Banerjee has emerged as a pivotal figure in the opposition’s attempts to consolidate anti-BJP forces ahead of the next general election.
Ms Banerjee won despite an aggressive campaign by the BJP, which staked all its top leaders and its mighty election machinery on Mission Bengal. The election is now held up by many in the opposition as a template for taking on the BJP in future polls.
In Delhi for the first time after the win, the Chief Minister has lined up meetings with several key opposition leaders.
“Poore desh me khela hoga. It’s a continuous process… When general elections come (2024), it will be (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi vs country,” she told reporters earlier today.
“After the parliament session there will be talks, there should be a common platform to work together. I am meeting Sonia Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. I spoke to Lalu Prasad Yadav yesterday. We will be talking to all parties.”
Asked to comment on the view – bolstered by a series of listless Congress campaigns – that the grand old party is now a weak link for the opposition, Ms Banerjee said: “I don’t want to interfere in the internal math of any political party. But I think Sonia Gandhi wants opposition unity.”
Ms Banerjee had earlier said she was open to an opposition front but any such grouping would be impossible without the Congress.
Since its failed outing in Bengal, the Congress has sought to demonstrate its goodwill towards the Trinamool.