Home Minister Amit Shah and Mamata Banerjee (Photo Credit: FIle Image)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the Eastern Zonal Council meeting in Bhubaneswar on Friday for the first time after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was enacted. Banerjee, who has been a bitter critic of the CAA-NPR-NRC issues, already reached the Odisha capital where the EZC meeting will be held under the chairmanship of Shah.
State government officials and TMC leadership remained tightlipped whether the two leaders will hold any one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the meeting. Banerjee did not attend meetings of the Niti Aayog and several others convened by the BJP-led Union government and now her decision to take part in the meeting chaired by Shah has raised eyebrows in the political circles here.
CPI(M) legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty wondered why Banerjee is silent on ongoing violence over CAA in Delhi and hinted that it is part of a “tacit understanding between the BJP and the TMC”.
“Delhi is burning as @RSSorg & its minions are creating havoc in the capital. But @MamataOfficial is unusually silent! Another message to @AmitShah before the Bhubaneswar meet? Another exposure of the under the table agreement between @BJP4India & @AITCofficial on the offing?” he tweeted.
The TMC leadership, however, denied the claim saying it is for keeping a working relationship with the Centre.
“If we don’t attend meetings, opposition parties make it an issue. If we attend meetings, then also they have an issue. In a federal structure, it is expected that both the state government and central government will have a working relation,” a senior TMC leader said.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh welcomed Banerjee’s decision to attend the meeting but took a swipe at her for not attending previous meetings convened by the union government.
“It is good that she is going to attend the meeting. We welcome it. Maybe she has changed her mind, as anti-CAA protests are now getting weaker with every passing day,” he said.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city in January, Banerjee had paid a “courtesy visit” at Raj Bhawan.
Meanwhile, a Bhubaneswar report said Banerjee was welcomed by Odisha’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha on behalf of the state government. After her arrival, the West Bengal chief minister left for Puri and scheduled to have ‘darshan’ of Lord Jagannath on Wednesday. At the Bhubaneswar airport, Benerjee said she will meet her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik on Thursday.
Chief Ministers of Bihar and Jharkhand, Nitish Kumar and Hemant Soren respectively, are also scheduled to attend the EZC meeting.