Seven months after splitting from the UPA, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi again to judge the political weather and meet a host of leaders, both from government and the opposition.
While Banerjee is keeping her options open for the next Lok Sabha elections, high on her agenda during her four-day stay are meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, finance minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The meeting with PM – scheduled for Tuesday evening – would in fact, be their first exclusive meeting since Trinamool Congress withdrew support from the UPA in September. In the afternoon, she is to meet Ahluwalia and on Wednesday, she is to meet Chidambaram, said official sources. But Banerjee has also indicated that opposition leaders are keen to talk to her. And true to her style, she had hiked the stakes even before she set foot in Delhi, with a reference to Central funds for Bengal.
"I am going to Delhi to seek justice. Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister. We want to know why Bengal is being deprived. We will protest against the economic blockade by the Centre," she told reporters before leaving Kolkata.
From last year's allocation of Rs. 25,900 crore, the Planning Commission wants to hike the annual allocation for Bengal to nearly Rs. 29,000 crore - a jump of almost 17%.
But Banerjee is likely to demand more from a government that is heavily dependant on outside support. The UPA is looking forward to Trinamool's tacit support to pass key bills in Parliament.
The CPM claimed Banerjee was trying to mend fences with the Congress. While the theory found some support within a section of Trinamool Congress, UPA managers said the chances of a quick rapprochement are slim.