West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is expected to meet with various opposition leaders. (File)
Mamata Banerjee, in Delhi for the first time since her election victory in Bengal, is expected to meet with various opposition leaders over the next three days. The Bengal Chief Minister's meetings, which are yet to crystallize, are of great significance in the opposition's attempts to take on the BJP in the 2024 national election.
She is likely to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. This will be their first meeting since their tense encounter in Bengal when the Chief Minister skipped the PM's cyclone review meeting in May.
Sources say Congress president Sonia Gandhi has invited Mamata Banerjee to tea, but no date has been confirmed.
She is likely to have one-on-one chats with various leaders, a Trinamool Congress leader said, dismissing reports that she was planning to host a tea for opposition leaders.
Ms Banerjee was last week named leader of the Trinamool parliamentary party though she is not an MP; the new role signals her readiness to play a larger role in national politics beyond Bengal.
In a virtual speech on July 21 to an audience that included Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader P Chidambaram, Ms Banerjee appealed for unity. She said people would not forgive the opposition parties if they did not bury their differences and unite against the BJP.
Others present at that online meet were DMK's Tiruchi Siva, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader Keshav Rao, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s Sanjay Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal's Balwinder Singh Bunder.
The Bengal Chief Minister is also likely to go to Parliament, where the monsoon session has been marked by disruptions over the Pegasus "snooping scandal" besides other flashpoints.
Ms Banerjee today announced the country's first judicial inquiry headed by former judges into the Pegasus case, in which several opposition leaders, journalists and others have been revealed as potential targets of Israeli company NSO's Pegasus spyware, which is sold only to governments.
The Chief Minister's nephew and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee is among those named as potential targets from a leaked database of NSO. She said several other Bengal leaders were targeted.
The Congress recently tweeted on Mr Banerjee being targeted with the phone snoop spyware. Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien retweeted that with the comment "khela hobe" -- the Trinamool's wildly popular assembly election anthem that means 'game on'.
Trinamool MP Sougata Roy welcomed the tweet as a Congress gesture of unity. "It should strengthen bonds between opposition parties."
Prashant Kishor, who managed Mamata Banerjee's successful campaign, recently met several senior opposition leaders, including Sharad Pawar and the Gandhis.