Mamata Banerjee To Meet PM Modi Today To Discuss Bengal's Development

One of the most vocal critics of the Prime Minister, Ms Banerjee had met him last month. In the half-hour meeting, she had sought the release of funds to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore that's due to the cash-strapped state under various Central schemes.

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Mamata Banerjee To Meet PM Modi Today To Discuss Bengal's Development

Mamata Banerjee will attend the opposition leaders' meeting on Friday to discuss Presidential elections.

New Delhi:  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi today for a meeting of opposition parties on Friday to decide on a candidate for the Presidential elections.

That was as expected.

What was not - her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Yes I want to meet him today or tomorrow, if he has the time," Ms Banerjee said at the Kolkata airport around 2 pm before leaving for Delhi.

By the time she landed in Delhi, the appointment was confirmed -- at very short notice, said sources, for 3.30 pm on Thursday.

Agenda? "I need to discuss the Ganga erosion problem and problems about money due to the state," she said. Presidential polls? "We want a consensus candidate."

Personal choice for candidate? "I don' t have any personal choice." Finally, "Sometimes the national interest is above everything else," Ms Banerjee said.

The sudden meeting between Ms Banerjee and Mr Modi has triggered a spate of political speculation.

"Didi Bhai-Modi Bhai,"said CPM lawmaker Mohammed Salim, referring to a common Left slogan alleging an  'understanding' between the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister.

"Tomorrow, the BJP has a protest match in Kolkata - a farce," Mr Salim said. "We know she is meeting him about her MP Sudip Bandopadhyay who has just got bail in the Rose Valley chit fund case. The CBI is waiting for permission to challenge that bail," he added.

The BJP dismissed the claims by the CPM. "It is a government to government meeting. It is routine. We will protest in Kolkata tomorrow," said Sayantan Basu, BJP leader.

The party will march to the Kolkata Police headquarters, LalBazar, to demand, among other things, the arrest of Mr Noorur Rehman Barkati, Kolkata's controversial frequent fatwa cleric.

There has been no comment from the Congress so far. Mamata Banerjee is expected to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 8 pm on Friday, after the opposition meet in the afternoon.

One of the most vocal critics of the Prime Minister, Ms Banerjee had met him last month. In the half-hour meeting, she had sought the release of funds to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore that's due to the cash-strapped state under various Central schemes.

The Bengal Chief Minister has routinely accused the BJP-led Central government of attempting to derail her government. The accusations have become sharper as the ministers and leaders of her party were named, arrested or questioned in the Saradha and Rose Valley Ponzi schemes.

Ms Banerjee was in Delhi last week for a meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who has taken the lead to bring together the opposition and find a candidate to take on the face NDA would field.

President Pranab Mukherjee's term comes to an end in July. While the opposition is agreeable to a second term for him, PM Modi has not conveyed any decision to him regarding a second term. Sources close to the President said he refuses to consider a second term unless asked by the government.

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