As part of Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) outreach programme in building an Opposition front, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday met Shiv Sena leader and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray as well as party MP Sanjay Raut during her visit to Mumbai. Banerjee will meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Banerjee made it clear she was keen to build ties with Shiv Sena and NCP. She visited the Siddhivinayak Temple and coined the slogan ‘Jai Maratha, Jai Bangla’, which Shiv Sena will hope may boost its stock among Bengali as well as Muslim migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal in the civic elections due early next year.
After his meeting with the TMC leader, Aaditya said the two parties had an old friendship, and that they would work to strengthen these ties.
Banerjee’s arrival in Mumbai comes at a time she is trying to expand the TMC’s national footprint by contesting elections outside West Bengal and build an Opposition front without Congress. In October, Banerjee was in Goa where the TMC is contesting the Assembly elections.
Raut said Banerjee was to meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray but as he is still in hospital, recuperating from a surgery, Aaditya and he met her. “The politics and West Bengal-Maharashtra relations were discussed in the meeting. She (Mamata) said Maharashtra and West Bengal are warrior states and will not bow down,” said Raut after the meeting.
Aaditya, after meeting Banerjee, said that around two-three years ago, during the Bengal CM’s earlier visit to Mumbai, he and Uddhav Thackeray had met her. “Uddhavji and Mamata didi share a good bond. Both the leaders have been in touch and have had coordination, whether it in case of Covid-19 or otherwise. Mamata didi wanted to meet Uddhavji but could not due to the bio bubble (in the hospital).
Therefore, I came to meet her. She has conveyed her good wishes to Uddhavji. It was a good meeting and we want to take the ties between us forward,” said Aaditya.
During the day, Banerjee paid a visit to the Siddhivinayak temple and prayed for Thackeray’s speedy recovery. She also paid homage at the memorial to Shaheed Tukaram Ombale, the policeman who fell to terrorists’ bullets on 26/11.
“I am thankful to the priests and trustees of the temple and the Maharashtra government. I was very happy since they organised the darshan very well. Jai Maratha and Jai Bangla,” Banerjee told mediapersons after taking blessings at the temple. Soon after the TMC swept the West Bengal polls in May this year, Thackeray had called her a “Bengal tigress” for taking on the BJP.
NCP Minister Nawab Malik said that Banerjee will pay a courtesy visit to party chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday.
During her visit, apart from meeting Thackeray and Pawar, Banerjee plans to meet several top industrialists to attract investments for West Bengal and invite them for the Bengal Global Business Summit scheduled for April 2022. Banerjee is also scheduled to address industrialists at a conference organised by YPO (Young Presidents Organisation), a US-based global leadership community. According to sources, the CM will also meet prominent civic society members at an event organised by lyricist-poet Javed Akhtar and political strategist Sudheendra Kulkarni. A senior Trinamool leader said, “She has very cordial relations with Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan and may meet both of them during her visit.”
WITH ENS, KOLKATA