- Ahmed Patel's visit allegedly indicates interest in coalition formation
- Visit takes place in the backdrop of Arvind Kejriwal's sit-in protest
- Trinamool Congress supported Arvind Kejriwal's protest, Congress has not
Mr Patel, who had come to meet Ms Banerjee with flowers and a big fruit basket, was warmly invited inside the Banga Bhawan II in Chanakyapuri by the West Bengal chief minister.
According to Trinamool Congress insiders, Mr Patel's visit indicates the interest of the Congress and the importance of Ms Banerjee in cobbling together a coalition of opposition parties.
"Ahmed Patel meeting Banerjee is politically significant as it is likely that he has been directed by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to meet the chief minister. Banerjee today is in the leading role of uniting all opposition parties aganst BJP. And Congress obviously wants to be a part of it," a TMC source said.
The meet took place in the backdrop of difference of opinion between the Congress and other opposition parties on supporting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against the Centre and Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
While several regional parties, including the TMC, the Telugu Desam Party, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Left have extended support to the Aam Aadmi Party leader, Congress has crticised Mr Kejriwal for his "theatrics".
Ms Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu and Karnataka's H D Kumaraswamy had a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the sidelines of the NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting and urged the Centre to resolve the standoff.
Mr Kejriwal and his three cabinet colleagues have been staying put at the waiting room of Lt Governor's residence, protesting against what they call a strike by Delhi government IAS officers.
The IAS officers have denied that they are on strike.
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