CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee’s decision to skip Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s daughter’s wedding was a calculated decision, claim her party leaders. The reason: Her attending the wedding would send the wrong signal to the Opposition, which remains fragmented in spite of Mamata’s continued opposition of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to ban Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on November 8.
“She communicated her best wishes to Nitin Gadkari and his family. But she decided not to attend the wedding. This is a crucial time, the Opposition, particularly Mamata Banerjee, is trying to ensure that the Opposition is united, despite their various differences. Think about it… Both the SP and BSP are supporting her on the issue. This is unprecedented,” said a senior Trinamool Congress leader. But unprecedented or not, Mamata has reasons to worry. Fracture lines are already visible in her “movement”.
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Earlier, sources said the Congress had taken offence to a statement made by a Trinamool leader, articulating the ruling party’s decision to oppose bandhs in the state. It came at a time when the Congress had just called a strike on the note ban issue. As a result, the Congress had skipped Mamata’s protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. “She doesn’t want a repeat of such things. Already, she is in touch with the Congress high command and various other parties. It is a very difficult situation. Opposition unity in our political system is unheard of,” said the leader.
That Mamata is looking for a bigger role in national politics is no longer a secret. While speaking at Agartala during election campaign last month, Trinamool vice-president Mukul Roy had predicted that a coalition government would take over the Centre in 2019 and Trinamool will prove to be the kingmaker.
“Both CPM and Congress would face yet another defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for their own mistakes. The BJP, which has so far failed to put up a good show, will also meet the same fate,” he had claimed. Roy’s assessment is based on Trinamool’s success in the Bengal elections earlier this year. He also maintained that Mamata would prove to be the strongest federal leader in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“The people are fuming over the performance of the Modi-led government, and will teach a lesson to it in the next general elections… Laluji and Nitishji may manage to secure 20 to 25 seats while BJD is likely to win 18 to 20 seats. DMK or AIDMK will secure 39 to 40 seats while Netaji or Mayawatiji may win 25 to 30 seats,” he predicted. “It means Trinamool Congress will emerge as the largest party after the 2019 general elections,” he had said.