Kolkata, April 20, In an apparent attempt to strengthen ties with prominent political leaders, especially those ranged against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has started following many of them on Twitter, often exchanging pictures and pleasantries.
Recently, Banerjee re-tweeted a pictorial post of ex-Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav where they are seen together, and expressed her pleasure at meeting the Samajwadi Party leader.
"Missed this tweet a few days ago. It was so nice meeting you in Delhi recently. Thanks," Banerjee tweeted.
The two leaders, who share a good political bonding, also exchanged pleasantries on the occasion of Poila Boishakh (the Bengali New Year on April 15) on social media.
"Happy Poila Baisakh! Wishing you a delightful and fulfilling year," Yadav wrote, while Banerjee warmly reciprocated the greetings on the same day. "Thank you Akhilesh for your greetings on Poila Baisakh. So nice of you. Warmly reciprocated," she tweeted.
The Trinamool supremo, who is one of the most active leaders from the state on social media, also congratulated senior Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on his re-election in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll.
"Congratulations to Farooq Abdullah Ji. So happy that a senior leader like you is back in Parliament," Banerjee wrote on Abdullah's son and NC leader Oman Abdullah's Twitter handle.
"Thank you didi. He has asked me to thank you for your kind words and warm message," Omar replied.
Since the past few days, Banerjee has also started following Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, DMK leader M.K. Stalin and the AIADMK's official Twitter handle.
Banerjee's attempt to reach out to the regional political parties and its leaders is being seen in the backdrop of speculation about the emergence of a wider political coalition at the Centre before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to counter the BJP's seemingly unstoppable electoral blitzkrieg.
According to political analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay, while social media exchanges could increase Banerjee's rapport with the other political forces, it would take a lot more to actually bring opposing powers under one umbrella to fight the BJP's ascendancy.
"Exchanging pleasantries on social media might warm up her relationship with these leaders but the real political battles happen on hard ground. To have an allied front, one has to see if opposing political powers like Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati or DMK and AIADMK would come together or not," Bandopadhyay said.
"Mamata Banerjee is currently the only 'brave face' in Indian politics who can challenge Modi or lead an allied front to contest against the BJP. She is also trying hard for a coalition of opposition parties. But whether it would materialise or not depends on several simultaneous equations," he added.
(Milinda Ghosh Roy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)