On a whirlwind tour of Delhi, Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday (July 28) met Congress president Sonia Gandhi – the first meeting between the two strong women since the Bengal elections in April-May where Congress and TMC contested against each other.
The meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of opposition parties coming together against BJP ahead of 2024 general elections.
“It was a very good meeting, positive meeting. To defeat the BJP, everybody needs to come together. Everyone will have to work together,” Banerjee said after the 45-minute meeting.
Earlier in the day, the West Bengal CM declared her party’s unflinching support to efforts to put the government in the dock over the Pegasus scandal, though she was unable to attend the July 27 Opposition meeting called to discuss the snooping issue.
“All Opposition parties must work together. We will all sit together and work something out,” she said on the second day of her three-day trip to Delhi. The Trinamool Congress leader is due to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
On a question on who should lead a broad Opposition alliance, she said: “I’m not an astrologer…Someone will emerge, I will support.” On whether she could be the face of the Opposition, NDTV quoted her as saying: “I am a simple worker, want to continue as a worker.”
“After the Parliament session, there will be talks. There should be a common platform to work together,” said the Bengal CM. “I spoke to (RJD leader) Lalu Prasad yesterday (July 27) and will be talking to all parties,” she said.
Mamata’s nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee figured on the alleged list of potential surveillance targets through Israeli firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. This was reported earlier this month by a consortium of 17 news organisations across the world.
Claiming that her phone has also been hacked, Mamata said she has been unable to speak to anyone. Repeating her claim, she said: “Even if I’m not on Pegasus, if I speak to Abhishek Banerjee, or PK (election strategist Prashant Kishor) it is hacked. If one phone is hacked, all are hacked.”
The Opposition has paralyzed Parliament proceedings with persistent demand for an explanation from the government on the Pegasus issue, following claims by NSO Group that its clients are only “vetted” governments.
Supreme Court-monitored probe
On July 27, after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mamata had demanded a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the snooping scandal. She also wanted the PM call an all-party meeting on the issue.
The government has maintained that it has not conducted any illegal surveillance, an assertion that the Opposition has termed vague.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whose number was also on the alleged list, said at the July 28 Opposition meeting: “The entire Opposition is here…our voice is being curtailed in Parliament. We are only asking if the Pegasus software was bought and if it was used against certain persons in India.”
Opposition leaders, two Union ministers and 40 journalists were allegedly targeted in the surveillance through the Israeli Pegasus spyware that is sold only to governments.