West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is on a four-day visit to the national capital and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 4:30pm. This meeting has given rise to a great deal of speculation, and some discord as well.
This comes in the backdrop of one of Banerjee’s closest aides Partha Chatterjee being in ED custody over the alleged irregularities in the hiring of teachers, teaching and non-teaching staff through the West Bengal School Service Commission.
Chatterjee has been removed from all his positions in the state cabinet and in the party. He has been in ED custody for over 10 days since 23 July, after Rs 50 crores of unaccounted cash was found from his close aide Arpita Mukherjee’s apartment.
TMC and Bengal BJP's War of Words
While it is not known whether the two will be discussing the proceedings against TMC leaders, BJP National Vice-President Dilip Ghosh minced no words when saying that Banerjee uses these meetings to “give out a signal of a setting”.
She (Mamata) uses these meetings to send out a signal that setting (deal) has been done. The centre should realise this.Dilip Ghosh, BJP National Vice President
Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Ray dismissed the allegations made by Ghosh and called them ‘wild’.
Other BJP leaders like Sukanta Majumdar and Suvendu Adhikari are also not happy with the meeting. The central BJP, however, has been hush about the matter so far.
What Can Be Discussed in The Meeting?
From what is known, Banerjee will be discussing the release of GST and MNREGA dues of the state. They are also slated to discuss other administrative issues, mostly related to funds that are owed to the state by the centre.
TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, "We met (Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj) Giriraj Singh and he had promised to resolve the MGNREGA issue within 48 hrs. It has been over a month and all I received is a four-page answer which I have given to Mamata Banerjee."
But while speculation is rife that the duo might discuss the alleged scams in Bengal and central agencies’ action against them, it is all simply speculation.
Banerjee is also scheduled to meet President Droupadi Murmu later in the evening, around 6:30 pm.
Mamata Banerjee's Delhi Visit
Banerjee also met TMC MPs on Thursday, 4 August to discuss the about the ongoing session of Parliament and the strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, sources told PTI.
During the meeting, she also asked them for suggestions for the names of the seven new districts in West Bengal, they added.
Reportedly, Banerjee's nephew and TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was vocal during the meeting and made suggestions on what issues the MPs should raise in the last few days of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Both categorically told party MPs not to get "intimidated" by the BJP.
The West Bengal chief minister will attend a Niti Aayog meeting on August 7, sources said, adding also on the cards is a meeting with non-Congress Opposition leaders such as that of the DMK, TRS and AAP on Saturday.
With the TMC warming up to the Congress in Parliament, Banerjee might also meet the grand old party president Sonia Gandhi, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case.
Prime Minister Modi will chair a Niti Aayog governing council meeting on August 7, where issues related to agriculture, health and economy would be discussed. The council meets regularly. Its first meeting was held on February 8, 2015.
Banerjee had given the council's last year's meeting a miss. She is expected to raise the concerns of non-payment of GST dues and federalism issues at this year's meeting.
(With Inputs from PTI)