Initiating efforts to forge a common front against the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday met leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar and BJP's ally Shiv Sena in a bid to ensure one-to-one contest against the ruling alliance throughout the country.
Banerjee, who has had a long innings in the Lok Sabha, visited Parliament house and also met leaders of other parties including Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter K. Kavitha and Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti.
MPs from Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and DMK also met Banerjee.
The Trinamool chief said she wanted to meet UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi but was told that she was not well.
She appeared to have no plans to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi with whom, she said, she was in touch through sms and over phone.
Interestingly, Banerjee is all set to meet BJP rebels Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie on Wednesday.
Talking to reporters, she pitched for Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party coming together in Uttar Pradesh and favoured the strongest party in each state taking the lead in taking on the BJP.
"We want to work together. We do not want anyone should be isolated. Everyone should work together. The party that is strong, it should do it (take the lead). If Mayawatiji and Akhilesh are strong in UP, they should work together. We should help them," she said.
Referring to parties like the DMK, TDP and TRS led by Telangana Chief Minister Rao, Lalu Prasad's RJD in Bihar and Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, she said each party has to be helped to get together against BJP.
"We should find such a mechanism that it is one is to one (fight)," she said and added that Pawar was also of the same opinion.
Asked about her meeting with Shiv Sena MPs, she said "no party is more communal than the BJP in the country".
"They (Shiv Sena) talk of Hindutva but do not indulge in violence. They (BJP) do Hindutva carrying pistol. They bring bad name to Hindutva," she said.
Banerjee described Tuesday's meetings as informal and said she would be meeting some others on Wednesday.
"Informal meeting has been done. All parties came and we discussed. There are some other parties also tomorrow we will talk. Tomorrow, I will meet Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie. They will be coming to my house. That meeting has also been fixed for tomorrow," she said.
On Sonia Gandhi, Banerjee said she sent party MP Dinesh Trivedi to Congress office but was told that Gandhi had already left Parliament house.
"Soniaji is not well. I think let her recover first. I have already sent people there to inquire about her health. I keep in touch every day, I have no problems," she said.
Asked whether she will meet Rahul Gandhi, Banerjee said: "I have already said about Sonia... Rahul also SMSs and we talk. There is no problem."
On Assembly polls in Karantaka, she suggested that the Congress should not treat like-minded parties like it did in Tripura. She favoured Congress and Janata Dal-Secular coming together.
"It depends what relationship you have. We offered to fight the Tripura polls together with Congress. It is their prerogative what they do. They have not done. We want that yhr Congress should have good relations with H.D Deve Gowda in Karnataka. Why should relation break?
"Deve Gowdaji was Prime Minister and supported by Congress also. He is a good man. There should be adjustment. But I cannot tell the Congress. But if you ask my opinion, as a lay man, I will say that. I will tell you for better interest."
She said the media will also highlight opposition parties coming together.
She said a message has gone to the country that the Modi government "has lost all credibility" after demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax and bank frauds.
Banerjee also referred to her seniority as a political leader, saying she had been a MP seven times and has served as a union minister.
"I know the country very well. I have visited all the states," she said, adding that states have their own identity and compulsions.
She said people's data was being stolen and said she will raise the issue strongly.
She also accused the government of insisting on Aadhar linkage even after Supreme Court order extending the March 31 deadline.
Referring to media owners, she said the coverage of politics was one-sided. "You should understand democracy is for both the sides."
NCP leader Praful Patel later told reporters that Banerjee and Pawar discussed the present and future political situation in view of state polls and the Lok Sabha elections.
"There is of course a lot of different views on what kind of approach would be taken. But certainly Mamtaji and Sharad Pawarji discussed was that there should be opposition unity to the maximum possible," he said.
(With IANS inputs)