New Delhi, August 31: Amid the ongoing political slugfest over the Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met top leaders of several parties, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi, veteran BJP leader LK Advani and former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. Also Read - What Next? Govt Must Spell Out Future Plan Post 21-day Lockdown to Avoid Chaos, Says Congress
Following her meeting with Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, Banerjee said, “We discussed current politics and the possibility of all of us contesting elections together in future. We also discussed the Assam NRC issue”. Also Read - Trinamool to Boycott PM Modi's First All-Party Video Meet on Covid-19 Situation
“In 2019, all opposition parties will come together. Our priority is to defeat the BJP. There will be a collective leadership,” she added. Also Read - 'Totally Personal Matter, Will Sleep if I Want to,' Says Mamata Banerjee on PM's 'Blackout' Call
While Banerjee termed her meeting with Advani as a “courtesy call”, she said she has appealed to all opposition parties to send their delegation to Assam and has also urged Sinha to visit the state.
Suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad came to meet her at the TMC office in Parliament, followed by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel, and Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma also met Banerjee at the TMC office in the Parliament. She then met former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
“Her efforts to unite opposition leaders are commendable,” Azad said after the meeting.
The West Bengal chief minister is expected to several other leaders of opposition parties and some NDA allies in Parliament today.
The TMC chief is inviting the opposition for a mega anti-BJP rally to be held in Kolkata on January 19 next year. Political experts believe that rally in expected to help Mamata emerge as the leader of the united opposition front against the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, Banerjee, continuing her punitive attacks on the Modi government over the Assam NRC issue, accused the saffron party of playing vote-bank politics, while also warning that the issue will “destroy” India’s relationship with Bangladesh.
She said only one per cent of the 40 lakh residents, whose names are missing from the draft NRC, could be infiltrators, but people are being “harassed” in the name of infiltrators.
“The NRC will destroy relationship between India and Bangladesh. Out of 40 lakh people whose names are not in the list of NRC, only one per cent could be illegal infiltrators. But the BJP is trying to show that all those not included (in NRC) are infiltrators,” she told reporters at the Parliament.
Yesterday, she had alleged that the NRC exercise in Assam was done with a “political motive” to divide people and warned that it would lead to bloodbath and a civil war in the country.
“Bangladesh is not a terrorist country. After Independence, many people from Pakistan came to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab. From Bangladesh too, people came to Tripura, West Bengal, Bihar and many other states. They are not infiltrators or terrorists. Is it a crime that Bangladesh and we (West Bengal) share the same mother tongue? They (the Centre) think, anybody who speaks Bangla is a Bangladeshi” she said.
Her comments come in the backdrop of Assam government publishing the draft NRC on July 30. The draft excludes 40 lakh people from the list.
“The BJP is playing vote bank politics. The NRC will affect the whole world. Managing the borders is a responsibility of the Centre,” she said.
“Central forces see how many infiltrators are crossing into the country. But in the name of infiltrators, they (the Centre) are harassing people. I have appealed to all opposition parties to send their delegation to Assam. I have also urged Yashwant Sinha to go to Assam,” she said.