After Modi, now Mamata eyes Odisha

Bhubaneswar: After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s recently concluded two-day National Executive meet in which party leaders across the country delved into its pan-India poll roadmap, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to hold a public rally here during her three-day Odisha visit beginning tomorrow.

If sources are to be believed, she will address a gathering on April 19 in the capital city here, to counter the BJP’s poll strategy ahead of the 2019 general elections. Speculation is rife that Banerjee in her address to the rally would train her guns against the BJP and its government at the Centre.

Arya Kumar Gyanendra, the state convenor of TMC however said, her tour is “purely personal and has nothing to do with politics”.

Gyanendra said, after arriving here on Tuesday evening, Mamata will make a night stay in Puri and pay obeisance to the Holy Trinity the next morning. On Wednesday, she will be in Bhubaneswar and attend several programmes. Mamata will return to Kolkata on Thursday morning. Official sources said she would be a State guest during her three-day tour.

Asked whether Banerjee would meet Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Gyanendra said, “We have no information in this regard.”

Highly placed sources, however, said Banerjee is likely to meet Patnaik during her visit. On April 10, both the chief ministers had met at the Parliament House in New Delhi.

The proposed meeting of the two non-BJP and neighbouring chief ministers assume significance as the ruling parties in Odisha and West Bengal have been entangled in the chitfund scam which is being investigated by CBI.

As both the regional parties – TMC and BJD are being targetted by BJP Banerjee and Patnaik may draw a specific strategy to counter the saffron surge in their respective states.

National media reports said Ms Banerjee is also expected to visit her ailing party MP Sudip Bandopadhyay who has been admitted to a private hospital here following his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the multi-crore Rose Valley chit fund scam.

Though TMC has already set up its unit in Bhubaneswar its presence has not turned out to be impressive so far, sources added.