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Mamata to meet Sonia, Kejriwal, Pawar on Wednesday

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Kolkata, July 27 (IANS) In a bid to unite the Opposition against the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is on a four-day tour to the national capital, will meet several leaders on Wednesday, including interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar.

Speaking to the media after her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Banerjee said, “Opposition unity will take shape on its own,” making it obvious that she will leave no stone unturned to build a political front against the BJP.

When asked if she will lead such a consortium of Opposition parties, Banerjee said, “India will lead and we shall follow.”

The Chief Minister, who is hopeful that the regional parties will play an important role in developing the political front against the BJP, said, “The Lok Sabha elections are less than three years away and we should not waste time. We should join hands and fight the BJP together. The preparations should begin right away”.

Sources close to the Chief Minister said that Banerjee will meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at 4.30 p.m. at the latter’s residence.

“She will also meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and NCP leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday,” the sources said.

The Chief Minister, however, is not very sure about her meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind.

“President Kovind gave me time but there are some rules. I need to have two doses of vaccine and an RT-PCR negative report. I have completed two doses of vaccination, but from where do I get my test done? I am an outsider in Delhi. So if I can’t meet him this time, I shall try the next time,” she said.

Prior to meeting Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, the Bengal CM met several senior Congress leaders on Tuesday, including Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, in an apparent attempt to prepare the ground for meet the Congress top boss.

“If Opposition unity is to be a reality, the Congress will be a very important factor and Mamata Banerjee will definitely try to take the Congress on board. Her meeting with Sonia Gandhi is very significant because it can shape the future political scenario in the country,” a senior Trinamool Congress leader said.

Another senior Trinamool leader said that while the meetings with the President and the Prime Minister were formalities, Banerjee’s visit this time was planned with a larger Opposition plan in mind ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“I think it is clear to everyone in the Opposition that 2024 will see a very crucial election, which will be a big challenge. It is also a good sign that seriousness has set in now, when there is time to fight, and iron out the chinks, as they say,” the Trinamool leader said.

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Call me “Dada”, not “Sir”, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to employees

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Agartala: In what appears to be a step to boost the morale of the government employees, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday asked the government employees to call him “Dada” instead of “Sir”. “Call me Dada, not sir. It enhances the warmth of the relationship”, Deb told a gathering of government employees.

Deb exhorted the government employees of the state especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the state asking them not to dishearten as the state government was eager to improve their pay structure.

“I salute the ASHA and Anganwadi workers of my state. The level of dedication that my sisters have shown during the pandemic period deserved applause. I know, they want to hear good news from me and I am assuring you all that this government will not disappoint anyone”, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told a gathering of government employees at Badharghat sports school field organized by Vivekananda Vicha Manch (VVM).

VVM has emerged as a big platform of government employees, of late, and Sunday’s public rally was its first big gathering to thank the Chief Minister for the series of steps his government took for the welfare of the employees.

“I know what challenges you people are facing. Nothing is hidden in front of me. I am assuring you all everything will be taken care of in the due course of time”, he added.  Lauding the efforts of government employees Deb said, without them no government office can function.

“Due to the efforts of government employees, people can access the benefits of the state sponsored welfare schemes. But, for a prolonged period the employees did not get their right to do something freely. They were trapped in the clutches of unions. In the previous regime, Left sponsored unions used to enjoy supreme power which had reduced the whole work culture of the state to tatters. In 2018, you people showed courage and voted BJP to power”, said Deb.

“Despite fund constraints, the state government is positively working on the issues of DA and other factors pertaining to the interest of the government employees. Our government has already addressed a number of issues related to financial benefits. The ad-hoc promotion, increment for Group D, Group C employees, regularization of SSA teachers, seventh pay scale, UGC scale for professors, special benefit for LTC are to name a few. All these indicate what we want to do and we shall do what we promise”, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister also asked the officials not to call him “sir” suggesting them to refer to him as “Dada” as it makes the relationship stronger and cherished. The Chief Minister also distributed clothes among children of Badharghat sports school during the programme. State BJP President Manik Saha, Minister Ram Prasad Paul, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, MLA Mimi Majumder, state BJP Vice President and president of Vivekananda Vichar Manch Rajib Bhattacharjee also spoke on the occasion.

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