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Mamata In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress’ President Mamata Banerjee arrived here this afternoon on a three-day visit to Odisha.

MoS for Home and Sports & Youth Affairs, Tusharkanti Behera received the West Bengal CM at the Biju Patnaik International Airport. Soon after landing at the airport, she left for Puri by road with a police escort.  

She is scheduled to meet Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on 23 March.

“Naveen Patnaik Ji is our senior leader. I will meet him,” Mamata told reporters here at the airport. The CM also informed that she will offer prayer at Lord Jagannath temple in Puri.    

Mamata will spend this night in Puri. Tomorrow, she will visit Shree Jagannath Temple in the afternoon to offer prayers, said Puri District Collector Samarth Verma.

The West Bengal CM will also stay in Puri Wednesday and then leave for Bhubaneswar on Thursday, he said.

The Puri district administration has made security arrangements for Mamata, as per the protocol, said Puri superintendent of police K.V. Singh.

She will also lay the foundation stone for construction of a Bhakta Niwas for West Bengal devotees in Puri, officials said.

On 23 March, before taking the return flight to Kolkata from Bhubaneswar, she is very likely to meet with Naveen Patnaik. However, Odisha CMO is yet to confirm it.

The possibilities of the one-to-one meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik has sparked speculation of the West Bengal Chief Minister’s initiative to forge an alliance of regional parties for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls without keeping Congress in the fray.

On Friday afternoon, she held a one-to-one meeting with Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav.

However, Naveen had always maintained an independent identity of his as well as his party, by keeping an equal distance with both BJP and Congress. He also never inclined towards a possible third front. Now, all eyes are on the meeting between the two Regional Power Houses.