Within days of meeting Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is set to meet her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Thursday (March 23).
While Yadav made it clear that the SP would stand firmly with “Mamata didi” to form the much-spoken-about “third front” in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, sources in Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress said she might discuss with the BJD chief strategies for next year’s polls as well.
Didi in Puri
The TMC supremo arrived in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday (March 21) on a three-day trip, officials said. Odisha’s Minister of State for Home, TK Behera, received her at the Biju Patnaik International Airport.
“Naveen Patnaik ji is a senior leader, and I have a programme to meet him on Thursday,” she told reporters after her arrival in Puri. Banerjee will stay at Nirman Nivas in the seaside pilgrim town for two nights. Adequate arrangements have been made for her stay, SP KV Singh said.
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The Bengal CM is likely to have an hour-long discussion with Puri district officials at 3 pm on Wednesday and visit the Shree Jagannath Temple to offer prayers at 4 pm, the officials said. On Thursday, Banerjee will reach Bhubaneswar around 4.30 pm and meet Patnaik at his residence before leaving for Kolkata, they said.
“Driving force behind anti-BJP thrust”
“Banerjee is the driving force behind the anti-BJP thrust. The two chief ministers could discuss strategies for the 2024 general elections when they meet,” a senior TMC leader told PTI.
During his visit to Kolkata to chair the two-day SP national executive meet, Yadav told reporters last week, “You may call it a front, gathbandhan, or an alliance, but something will emerge in some form ahead of the election, as everyone wants parivartan (change).”
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There have been talks about a non-BJP, non-Congress front in the past, too, but so far all efforts have come to a nought. Recently, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal also reportedly made an attempt by inviting seven CMs to dinner in Delhi, but the meet never happened.
(With agency inputs)