Modi, Mamata to meet today
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday afternoon in the national capital to discuss a possible consensus Presidential candidate.
After reaching Delhi airport, she confirmed that her visit comes in the wake of the Prime Minister giving her time for a meeting. "At 3.30 pm on Thursday afternoon, I will be meeting the PM and will discuss the state's development issues and financial grants by the Centre for the state in several ongoing projects," Banerjee added.
It was learnt from party sources that Banerjee would give a list of projects that have been taken up since she met the Prime Minister in 2016. She had demanded the release of Rs 10,000 crore from Modi when she met him in April 2017. Political observers, however, view the meeting between two leaders as one of serious political importance.
Even before leaving for the Capital, Banerjee told mediapersons at Kolkata airport, "There has been curtailment of funds in several projects and I will take it up with the Prime Minister. Also, I will take up the issue of Ganga erosion with him (the Prime Minister)."
The Centre has drastically reduced funds for the ICDS programmes. But as thousands of people would be affected, the state government decided to continue the programmes despite financial constraints.
Also, in the construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the Centre has reduced its share to 60 per cent of the estimated cost while the maintenance of the roads is now the responsibility of the state government.
On the other hand, the Opposition parties will hold a meeting at Parliament on Friday. The meeting, called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, assumes special significance as uncertainties have recently emerged with political differences cropping up within the "United Opposition". Now, it is not yet clear how many of the Opposition parties will turn up at Friday's crucial meeting.
Meanwhile, their future course of action will largely depend on the PM's view on a consensus Presidential candidate. In an oblique comment on the issue, Banerjee said, "On Friday all Opposition leaders are meeting. I have spoken to many of them. I urge them to take a decision on a common consensus candidate and will try to achieve that."