KOLKATA: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence in 10 Janpath in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss ways to prevent the election of a BJP candidate to the post of President. The tenure of President Pranab Mukherjee will end on July 24.
Mamata Banerjee had earlier received Sonia Gandhi’s invitation, responding to which she flew to the national capital on Monday. Sources revealed that the West Bengal Chief Minister may also meet her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal for broadening the base of anti-BJP opposition.
The meeting between Mamata and Sonia gains significance due to Mamata’s attempts to form a regional coalition, that includes RJD, JU (U) and BJD, to halt the BJP blitzkrieg in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Sources in Trinamool Congress said that the party was looking up to the Bihar model, in which RJD and JD (U) successfully halted the BJP-led coalition from forming the provincial government. Many TMC leaders feel a united opposition can repeat the feat in 2019.
The saffron party has an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha but not in Rajya Sabha due to which it may face some difficulty in facilitating the victory of its Presidential candidate. The Opposition parties see this as an opportunity to forge stronger ties and prevent the BJP from electing its Presidential candidate and also do a small rehearsal for the big battle in 2019.
However, the Opposition’s unity may witness cracks if Congress tries to push its own candidate and Mamata her own in an attempt to galvanise support back home in Bengal. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had earlier proposed the name of RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat as NDA’s Presidential candidate, to which the veteran RSS leader declined.