West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress' National President Mamata Banerjee will be on a two-day visit to Odisha this month when she is likely to call on her counterpart and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President Naveen Patnaik.
Trinamool Congress sources said that the chief minister will reach Odisha- capital of Bhubaneswar on March 21 evening and make a night-stay there.
On March 22, Mamata Banerjee will go to Puri and offer prayers at Shree Jagannath Temple there. On March 23, before taking the return flight to Kolkata from Bhubaneswar, Trinamool sources said, there is a possibility of her meeting with Naveen Patnaik. However, it is yet to be known whether there has been confirmation from the office of Patnaik about the meeting.
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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.
Incidentally, on Friday afternoon, she is supposed to be having a one-to-one meeting with Samajwadi Party chief and the Leader of the Opposition in Uttar Pradesh assembly, Akhilesh Yadav.
Political observers feel that if the meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik finally happens, it will signal an interesting turn in the field of opposition politics in the country considering the different outlook of BJD and Trinamool Congress on this count.
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On one hand, Patnaik had always maintained an independent identity of his as well as his party, where by keeping an equal distance with both BJP and Congress, he had never been vociferous in raising his voice on behalf of any camp on this count.
On the other hand, Trinamool Congress has been quite vocal against BJP and wants a unity of opposition parties, its definition of opposition alliance is the unity of regional parties without Congress in the game.