As chief minister Mamata Banerjee reached Delhi on Monday on a three-day trip, political circles were abuzz with speculations over the real purpose of her visit. A string of meetings lined up with leaders cutting across the political spectrum have only strengthened the perception that her visit is aimed at gauging the political situation in the runup to the Assembly polls in Bengal in the summer of 2016.
Sources said the Trinamool Congress chief has two principal objectives. One, she needs to thwart any further proximity between the CPI(M) and the Congress. Two, she needs to lobby to rein in the CBI investigation into the Saradha scam that seems to have got a fresh lease of life after the cancellation of bail of former transport and sports minister Madan Mitra. She is also expected to hobnob with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
On Tuesday, the chief minister has a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The official reason of the meeting, as the chief minister herself said, is to demand the release of unpaid central funds earmarked for Bengal. However, political analysts believe the meeting will be very crucial in the backdrop of the increased activity of the CBI. Mamata herself has bristled time and again against the renewed CBI activity in the state and publicly vented her ire against the Centre.
Possibilities are also high of Mamata meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi to try to prevent any alliance between the Congress and the CPI(M) in Bengal. This can go a long way in ensuring a free run for the Trinamool juggernaut in the next Assembly election.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury recently said that his party will deliberate on the possibility of an electoral understanding with the Congress after the party’s plenum in late December.
Incidentally, senior state Congress leader Somen Mitra, on Monday, strongly advocated against any understanding with the Trinamool. “Holding the hands of Trinamool will mean the end of the Congress in Bengal,” he said.
“The chief minister is well aware that while a major section of the Bengal Congress is in favour of an electoral understanding with the Left, a small section in the state Congress, who wants to keep their existing seats safe, feels that an understanding with the Trinamool is a better option for the Congress. If Mamata meets Gandhi, she will keep no stone untur ned to scuttle any alliance between the Congress and the CPI(M),” a political analyst said, adding, “The significance of her trip will increase all the more if this becomes her last trip to Delhi before the Assembly polls in Bengal.”
Mamata is also scheduled to attend the wedding of Sonali Jaitley, daughter of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, where Gandhi too is invited.
She may also meet her Delhi counterpart, Arvind Kejriwal, whom she congratulated after the thumping victory of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the last Delhi Assembly election. She also went to attend a meet of non-Congress, non-BJP chief ministers organised by Kejriwal in the end of September.