West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Odisha visit has boosted the rank of file of the Governing BJD, which was apparently demoralized after BJP’s meteoric rise in the recently concluded Zilla Parishad elections.
The BJD leaders and workers were worried as the saffron surge had already gripped the state due to frequent visit to Union Ministers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides the BJP holding its National Executive Meeting in the State Capital here.
After meeting, Mamata has forcefully claimed that the regional parties were strong enough to counter the BJP.
"The regional parties are enough to tackle the BJP," Trinamool Congress Chief Ms.Banerjee told Media Men after a 10- minute meeting with Mr.Patnaik at Naveen Niwas.
Though Naveen is equally popular in the state, he lacked the oratory skill as Mamata possessed.
Her words have given fresh lease of confidence among the BJD leaders and workers, admits a senior MLA.
Asked about the threat to regional parties, particularly from the BJP in wake of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly poll results, Ms.Banerjee shot back "I do not believe that they (BJP) are a threat."
Coming down heavily on the BJP, she said the party (BJP) divides people and split political parties, a tactics that the regional parties do not resort to.
"They divide parties. Sometimes they purchase Ministers, MLAs and whatever they can.
"They create division among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, tribals and scheduled caste people. They even create division within the Hindu community. We regional parties do not do that. We say Jai Jagannath as there is no caste, creed and religion in the Jagannth culture," said Banerjee.
To a question on the proposed federal front, the TMC chief said, "That is my consistent effort. We love regional parties and we want regional parties to persist and grow."
"In the federal structure, regional parties strengthen the very system under the Constitution," she said adding all states are important in a federal setup.
"We are already in the federal structure. Look, he (Naveen) is Odisha Chief Minister and I belong to West Bengal. Therefore, I say all regional parties are there. Secular parties are always secular and are together," she said.
Asked whether she finds a natural ally in BJD, Banerjee said "We have great respect for it."
On the upcoming Presidential election, she said "It is still early for that. If he (Naveen) proposes any name, I will talk to him. Don't worry. We have the best of relationship."
On the other hand, Union Minister Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan has given his reaction over the meeting of two non-BJP Chief Ministers.
He ridiculed the meeting between Mamata and Naveen and termed it as a bid to develop “mutual cooperation” to deal with chitfund scam investigation.
“The understanding b/w @Naveen_Odisha led BJD & @ MamataOfficial led TMC is driven by a common bonding of corruption & is nothing but natural,” Mr.Pradhan tweeted barely one hour after the meeting between the two CMs.
Justifying his claim, Mr.Pradhan also tweeted saying: “News is that BJD assured Mamata to positively consider her proposal for a grand alliance in Odisha with Congress as the third partner.”
On the purpose of Mamata’s visit, Mr.Pradhan said:” Primary reason of Mamata’s visit to Odisha was to meet two TMC MPs who are involved in chitfund scam and are lodged in Bhubaneswar jail.”