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Mamata's mission

Mamatas mission
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who arrived in the national capital on Monday evening for a four-day Delhi trip, has begun building a consensus among opposition parties to form a third front and collectively take on the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. She has taken initiatives to form a joint front of non-Congress, non-BJP parties. On Tuesday, she met Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader YS Chowdary, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party leader Kavitha Rao. On Wednesday, she is scheduled to meet former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other disgruntled BJP leaders such as Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. She had a telephonic conversation with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu from Kolkata before embarking on her Delhi trip. Initially, Pawar had dismissed the speculation of his proposed meeting with Mamata Banerjee but the two leaders did meet when she went over to Pawar's office to see him. NCP leader Praful Patel and Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule were also present during the exchange. After the meeting, Patel informed media persons that the talks were political in nature and they discussed the possibility of forging an alliance of opposition parties across India on the same lines as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and SP have done in the recent Uttar Pradesh by-polls. Prior to this, DMK leader Kanimozhi and MPs from YSR Congress and BJD came to meet Mamata Banerjee at her office in Delhi. On a question about the possibility of the SP and BSP joining the front, she said that Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav should call a meeting in Lucknow and she along with other opposition leaders would attend the meeting. If Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati remain united, no force can defeat them, she said. She also said that if the federal front manages to win enough seats, even the Congress will support the front to form the government at the Centre. The West Bengal Chief Minister further said that when politicians meet, they talk politics and there is nothing to hide. She also said that the 2019 general elections would be very interesting. Indeed, by the manner in which the opposition parties are undertaking efforts to unite themselves before the 2019 elections, the stage looks set for a close contest between the united opposition and the BJP-led NDA. The idea of a Federal Front will represent regional issues and aspirations that most of these leaders think have been ignored by the pan-Indian political parties like Congress and BJP. For a long time, the Trinamool Chief has been accusing the Centre of ignoring the interests and encroaching upon the rights of the states. In the wake of TDP pulling out of the NDA on the question of a special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Mamata Banerjee had supported Chandrababu Naidu. She felt that Andhra Pradesh was not given its due by the Centre. The sudden impetus to opposition unification followed the North-East Assembly election results where the BJP formed the government independently in Tripura and with coalition partners in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Now, in the entire North-East, only Mizoram has a non-BJP government. The opposition's unity is also the need of the hour as some big states are going to polls this year. The Karnataka Assembly election has been scheduled for May 12 and the state is slated to witness a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP while the opposition parties are expected to rally around the Congress. After Karnataka, elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The Congress has emerged as the biggest gainer in the recent by-polls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Similar by-poll results from Uttar Pradesh indicate that if the opposition parties ensure that there is no division of votes, they could very well defeat the BJP. This has triggered the drive to unite opposition parties and Mamata Banerjee is fast emerging as the consensus builder. She has taken the lead to meet the opposition leaders for this purpose. Even when she had launched the protest against demonetisation, she had met a number of political leaders including Arvind Kejriwal and Akhilesh Yadav. She says she keeps in touch with most opposition leaders including young guns like Hardik Patel. As the number of young voters will be significant in the 2019 elections, even the opposition camp, which is uniting on the plank of federalism, cannot afford to ignore the young voters. Mamata Banerjee, who herself has been a youth leader, clearly understands this dynamic very well.
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