For the past few days, there were frequent phone calls between the secretariats of Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha as the three chief ministers skillfully coordinated their attack on the Centre over the issue of National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC).
Last week, Odisha CM Patnaik is learnt to have made the first call to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee asking for a copy of her letter sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the union home ministry's plans for NCTC.
Banerjee, who had earlier shaped her Trinamool Congress' opposition to the Lokpal Bill after hearing a speech by Patnaik's party (BJD) MP Bhartruhari Mahtab in the Lok Sabha, promptly obliged.
Top sources in the Trinamool told HT that Patnaik's second letter to the PM on Monday was also timed to hit Delhi before Banerjee's visit.
Before coming to Delhi, she also spoke at length with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and decided to jointly oppose the NCTC.
To put up a strong and united front, Patnaik is also believed to have politely ignored the signals from a BJP chief minister who wanted to join the fray and had sought a copy of Patnaik's letter to PM before it was made public. But the Odisha CM, who had dramatically snapped ties with the BJP before the 2009 election, kept the sensitivities of both Kumar and Banerjee in mind while handling the requests of the BJP CM.
Sensing the emergence of a stronger non-BJP, non-Congress pressure group this time, the CMs have also not allowed the Left-that was earlier leading the third front charge-to steal the show. "In the present situation, we don't require the Left's direct support. We are doing fine," said a senior BJD leader. This is being seen in the Trinamool circles as yet another attempt to keep Banerjee in good humour, who is a staunch CPM rival.