This Article is From Jul 27, 2021

PM Modi, 3 Congress Leaders - Mamata Banerjee's Day 1 Agenda In Delhi

Mamata Banerjee's meeting with the Prime Minister is at 4pm. The meeting is being variously described as a courtesy call.

Mamata Banerjee's first meeting is with Congress leader Kamal Nath at 2pm (File)

New Delhi:

Mamata Banerjee, in Delhi for the first time since her election victory in Bengal, has several meetings lined up today -- three meetings with Congress leaders and the fourth with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the next three days, the Bengal Chief Minister is expected to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi for tea. The date and time for that is not disclosed yet.

Mamata Banerjee's first meeting today is with Congress leader Kamal Nath at 2 pm. At 3 pm she will meet with Anand Sharma. She will also meet Abhishek Manu Singhvi at 6.30pm.

Her meeting with PM Modi is at 4 pm. The meeting is being variously described as a courtesy call. It will be her first meeting with the Prime Minister after the Bengal elections where the two leaders were frequently at loggerheads. Ms Banerjee may ask the Prime Minister to ensure the release of central dues to the state as well as vaccines.

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are also expected to call on her.

Her first meeting after arriving in Delhi on Monday was with Vineet Narain, the journalist who has written a book on the Jain Hawala scam in 1996. He recently congratulated Ms Banerjee for raising the unresolved scam after so many years. Ms Banerjee had alleged that Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was one of the alleged beneficiaries of the scam. Mr Dhankhar has denied the claim

The Bengal Chief Minister's meetings are of great significance in the opposition's attempts to take on the BJP in the 2024 national election.

Ms Banerjee was last week named leader of the Trinamool parliamentary party though she is not an MP; the new role signals her readiness to play a larger role in national politics beyond Bengal.

In a virtual speech on July 21 to an audience that included Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader P Chidambaram, Ms Banerjee appealed for unity. She said people would not forgive the opposition parties if they did not bury their differences and unite against the BJP.

Others present at that online meet were DMK's Tiruchi Siva, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader Keshav Rao, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s Sanjay Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal's Balwinder Singh Bunder.

Ms Banerjee may also go to Parliament, where the monsoon session has been marked by disruptions over the Pegasus "snooping scandal" besides other flashpoints. She has announced the country's first judicial inquiry headed by former judges into the Pegasus case, in which several opposition leaders, journalists and others have been revealed as potential targets of Israeli company NSO's Pegasus spyware, which is sold only to governments.

The Chief Minister's nephew and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee is among those named as potential targets from a leaked database of NSO. She said several other Bengal leaders were targeted.

The Congress recently tweeted on Mr Banerjee being targeted with the phone snoop spyware. Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien retweeted that with the comment "khela hobe" -- the Trinamool's wildly popular assembly election anthem that means 'game on'.

Trinamool MP Sougata Roy welcomed the tweet as a Congress gesture of unity. "It should strengthen bonds between opposition parties."

Prashant Kishor, who managed Mamata Banerjee's successful campaign, recently met several senior opposition leaders, including Sharad Pawar and the Gandhis.