Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee Thursday said they had resolved to make the federal structure of the country “strong and permanent”.
The statement came after a much awaited meeting of the two chief ministers held at the conclusion of Banerjee’s three-day visit to Odisha.
Addressing reporters at the end of the meeting at Naveen Niwas — Patnaik’s residence — with Banerjee beside him, the Odisha CM said, “We resolved to make the federal structure of the country permanent and strong. There was no other political discussion.”
Banerjee seconded Patnaik and said, “I strongly support what Naveen ji said and I appreciate this.”
However, speculation remained rife that the meeting was part of Banerjee’s plan to form an opposition front with regional players minus the Congress.
Earlier both Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Uttar Pradesh’s backwards’ leader Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi party had last Friday said the two parties would stay away from both the Congress and BJP.
TMC had also announced it would hold talks with other regional parties in their bid to take on the BJP in the crucial 2024 elections though it officially continued to deny any plans for a “third front”, separate from the Congress-led broad coalition.
After today’s meeting too, both the leaders skipped questions on the possibility of a third front or a regional alliance for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“It was a courtesy meeting. There was no in-depth discussion about serious political matters. We share a very old friendship,” Patnaik said.
Earlier, Banerjee reached Patnaik’s residence, where the Odisha chief minister welcomed her by presenting Sri Angavastra of Lord Jagannath. He also presented a replica of the three chariots to the Trinamool Congress supremo, besides filigree work and some sweets from Odisha .
Banerjee gave a return gift of a shawl to Patnaik.
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