Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has invited BJP’s belligerent ally Shiv Sena to attend a ‘federal front’ rally she is organising in Kolkata on January 19 for which she is trying to mobilise maximum participation of Opposition parties.
Banerjee conveyed her invitation to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and party MP Sanjay Raut when she held discussions with the latter at Parliament House, it is learnt. Second to none in setting spicy atmospherics, Raut is learnt to have invited Banerjee to visit the Thackeray home, Matoshree, in Mumbai as well. The Sena camp said Banerjee often interacted with Thackeray whenever she visited Mumbai.
Given that January 19 is almost half-a-year away, Banerjee’s meeting various leaders in Delhi with invitation for the rally is seen as her way of positioning during the Parliament session.
Describing the meeting as a courtesy call, Raut later told media persons “the Shiv Sena and Mamata Banerjee have a very warm relationship. There were certain things which Mamataji wanted me to convey to Uddhavji.” On her part Banerjee added, “I respect Shiv Sena. At least it does not do politics with a gun in their hand. There is no party more communal than the BJP.”
Before her re-packaged as a virulent anti-BJP secular leader, Banerjee’s Trinamool and Sena were members of the Vajpayee-led NDA government.
Though Shiv Sena continues to be part of the BJP government at the Centre and in Maharashtra, it had stayed away from the debate and voting during the noconfidence motion against the Modi government last month.
Banerjee also met Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at 10 Janpath and had discussion on issues including NCR as part of her political networking with the Opposition parties especially at a time when she has launched a frontal attack on the Modi government and BJP over the NRC issue.
Banerjee also met BJP veteran LK Advani in the Central Hall of Parliament and had a small chat with him. Later she told reporters that she had enquired about Advani’s health and well-being. “During my last visit to Delhi, I had visited Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) in hospital.”
Advani is one of the BJP leaders sidelined by the present regime. He is a part of the BJP Margadarshak Mandal. Suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad also met Banerjee.