Is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee keeping her options open for 2019?

On Friday Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the newly built Bangladesh Bhavan at Shantiniketan, West Bengal in presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. But the biggest talking point in the Prime Minister’s West Bengal visit was his interactions with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

There were a lot of speculations about how the two leaders would greet each other after recent bitter relations. The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was calling for the opposition to be united against National Democratic Alliance (NDA) just two days back at Bengaluru, was the first to greet PM Modi when he landed at Shantiniketan. She presented the Prime Minister with a scarf and flower bouquet and enjoyed some light moments with the Prime Minister.

PM Modi showed CM Mamata Banerjee the way to avoid mud that was spread on the field when she was heading towards him. Usually these are all part of protocol but as the Lok Sabha elections are closing-in, political pundits are trying to get hints of things to come from the smallest of actions.

At another instance, CM Mamata Banerjee was caught on camera moving aside West Bengal Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi to pave way for PM Modi and herself on the frame. Kesari Nath Tripathi appeared very uncomfortable when he was being pushed by Mamata Banerjee. He looked back at the Prime Minister who presumably signalled him to stay calm and stand where she is asking to.

The excitement exhibited by CM Mamata Banerjee to greet and take pictures with PM Modi has led many to wonder whether she is trying to keep her options open for 2019? One might also think, if this is the possible bonding of both leaders on a personal level?

The recent bonhomie exhibited by Ex-Congress President Sonia Gandhi towards the BSP supremeo Mayawati did raise some suspicious eyebrows in Bengaluru. Similar such interactions seems to be absent with CM Mamata Banerjee, at least for the public though.

Although CM Mamata Banerjee was present in the swearing in ceremony for Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy, her absence or cordial relations with Sonia and Mayawati in this group picture should be noted. Mamata Banerjee is seen talking with H D Deve Gowda at the far right instead.

It is a well known fact that PM Modi has maintained cordial personal relationships with several leaders in the past, especially ones who were not completely on board as NDA partners, Ex Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for example. Though the BJP may not like to associate itself with Mamata Banerjee or her party at this point, it is very difficult to point out what could be the exact reason for this bonding.

BJP President Amit Shah at several instances has made it clear that he has his next sight set on West Bengal. The rise of BJP in West Bengal, from being an one councillor party to second largest party in Panchayat level is based on a highly anti-Mamata narrative. Any association with her will make voter question BJP’s credentials in the state of West Bengal.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi