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Politics

Mamata Banerjee Meets Modi, Says PM Should Convene All-Party Meet on Pegasus Row

The West Bengal CM, however, refused to say if she discussed the findings of the Pegasus Project with the prime minister.

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, July 27, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after which she said that the prime minister should convene an all-party meet on the Pegasus snooping row and decide on a Supreme Court-led probe.

Banerjee, however, refused to say if she discussed the findings of the Pegasus Project with Modi.

On Monday, just before leaving for New Delhi, Banerjee had announced that her government has formed an inquiry commission comprising former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and former Calcutta high court judge Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya, to look into the Pegasus snooping row.

The Wire has reported on how a leaked database of telephone numbers selected by an unknown client of the Israeli NSO Group, contained the numbers of members of the political opposition in India and others. Banerjee and the TMC have been vocal about the revelations in the parliament and in press conferences.

Abhishek Banerjee, who is the general secretary of the TMC, was in the list of those who had been potentially under surveillance, The Wire has revealed. Among those successfully surveilled with the use of the spyware was TMC’s consultant for the 2021 assembly election, Prashant Kishor.

“I had asked for an appointment from the PM… This was a courtesy visit. Post election, following the protocol we have to meet the PM once. But I also spoke about the Covid situation. I asked him to ensure that West Bengal gets enough vaccine doses. I am not against giving vaccines to other states, but considering the population of Bengal, we need more doses,” Banerjee told reporters after her meeting with the PM.

She said during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bengal in May, there was no scope for a one-to-one meeting.

Banerjee also said that she mentioned the issue of the change in West Bengal’s name and told him that it was a long pending issue that should be resolved.

The last time Modi and Banerjee met, the Union government took exception to what it said was a breach of protocol, and showcaused then Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay.

Anti-BJP front?

This is the first of Banerjee’s series of meetings with senior political leaders in the national capital after her assembly poll victory in Bengal.

She said that the unity of opposition parties will take shape on its own, sidestepping questions of her taking on a leadership role.

When asked if she has lined up a series of meetings with the Opposition parties with the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in mind, she said that the general elections are far away.

“However planning for it has to be done in advance. Like there is election in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Tripura…” she said.

Asked about her efforts to unite the Opposition leaders, she said that it will happen “automatically”.

“Opposition unity will happen naturally, automatically,” she said. On whether she will lead the Opposition against the BJP, she said, “The country will lead the Opposition, we are the followers.”

She said that she will meet all Opposition members after the Parliament session is over and the coronavirus situation normalises, indicating that another visit soon was on the anvil.

Banerjee is scheduled to meet Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.

“She has called me for a chai per charcha tomorrow. Many of these leaders are my old friends. We discuss about old and new times. I will meet Arvind Kejriwal day after tomorrow. Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi asked for time, I have given them time. I will meet my party MPs tomorrow. I met Congress leaders Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma and Abhishek Manu Singhvi today,” she said.

Nath, after meeting the TMC chief, said he congratulated Banerjee for her victory in the recent assembly elections.

“We have not discussed any strategy. That will be discussed by the leader of our party. We just discussed the current situation and the issue of rising prices,” the Congress leader told reporters.

During their meeting, Anand Sharma is reported to have told her that there cannot be a non-BJP front without the Congress as it is a national political party with a pan-India presence.

Banerjee added that she had not spoken to Sharad Pawar. “I will meet him after the monsoon session,” she said.

She also said that she wanted to meet the President but has been informed that she needs to get a RT-PCR test done, which, she said, is difficult to do.

(With PTI inputs)