Modi, Didi meet at banquet for Bangla prez

Modi, Didi meet at banquet for Bangla prez

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee exchanged pleasantries on Friday night—for the first time since the BJP government came to power last May.

The occasion was a banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee for visiting Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid.

TV grabs showed Modi walk up to Banerjee, who was conversing with former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and shake hands and talk briefly.

Officials, however, said Modi shook hands with Banerjee as she stood among the members of the Indian delegation that had lined up for customary introduction to the visiting head of state.

Both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress leaders dismissed any possibility of the ice being broken between the two sides.

They pointed to Banerjee calling on Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently, but those meetings had not substantially improved ties. Banerjee has so far refused to call on Modi since he became prime minister.

She had boycotted the chief ministers' conference called by him on the issue of restructuring the Planning Commission.

The Trinamool's acrimony towards the BJP, which surprised everyone with its performance in the Lok Sabha polls, peaked when Banerjee accused the Union government of influencing the Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into the Saradha chit fund scam.

Senior BJP ministers, including Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, have maintained that the Centre has no role in the CBI probe.

The probe has so far seen senior West Bengal minister Madan Mitra land in police custody and two Trinamool MPs sent to jail.

A few days ago, BJP chief Amit Shah had held a huge rally in Kolkata to accuse Banrjee’s government of helping the scamsters siphon off deposits made by the poor, and helping even those who are behind terrorist acts like the Burdwan blasts.

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