Kolkata: For the first time since she met the Congress high command in Delhi end-July, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has openly criticised the Congress saying it has “miserably failed” in taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and this may “demotivate people”.
“Congress failed in fighting BJP in two consecutive general elections, which demotivated people,” she wrote in a special feature, titled ‘Dillir Dak‘ (The Call of Delhi) in the Trinamool mouthpiece Jago Bangla‘s special Puja edition on October 7.
Her former political aide Prashant Kishor tweeted the next day, saying, “there are no quick fix solutions to the deep-rooted problems and structural weakness of the GOP (Grand Old Party, i.e, Congress).” TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and other party leaders have also been targeting Congress for the past two weeks. In these tweets, Rahul Gandhi has also been mocked for losing Amethi to BJP.
So far, Banerjee had not taken Congress seniors head-on. In Thursday’s piece, Banerjee said that all anti-BJP forces should come together and float a front “for the sake of the country. But that must happen keeping the interest of the country in mind, not for some party’s vested political interest,” she stated.
“The front has to be floated based on policies and programmes. We have never thought or talked about building a front without Congress. However, in reality, Congress has miserably failed in fighting BJP,” she added.
The last two election results reflect the ineffectiveness of Congress, she said. “If there is no fight in Delhi, then people will get demotivated. BJP gets the benefit and manages to secure more votes in states. We are not concerned about the fate of the Opposition against BJP. But Congress has to realise the reality. If they don’t understand that, the Opposition unit will be incomplete. Bengal has shown to the country various ways to fight against the BJP,” she added.
Congress, however, has not reacted officially through its social media handles on the tweets of TMC leaders.
‘Political adversary of Congress’
Speaking to The Print Saturday, senior Congress leader and MP, Adhir Choudhury said his party “now treats” Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress as “political adversaries” like the BJP.
“Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji will never issue a statement on such petty issues and petty political parties which do not have any political stake outside Bengal. We are enough to take on them. Trinamool Congress is working as BJP’s stooge and helping them in subverting Congress. Mamata Banerjee always wanted to disrupt the Opposition’s unity and support the BJP. This time, she is doing this to save her nephew Abhishek, who is badly tangled in a coal scam case. Clearly, she and her nephew have made a deal,” he said.
Reacting sharply to Prashant Kishor’s tweet yesterday, Choudhury said: “About Prashant Kishor, I want to revise my earlier statement. On an earlier occasion, I called Mamata BJP’s Trojan Horse. But, BJP’s actual Trojan Horse is Prashant Kishsor. He is making Mamata Banerjee daydream about the Prime Minister’s chair and on the other hand, he is using her party to damage Congress and help BJP. Our leadership realised his game and kept him away from Congress.”
Trinamool leaders however downplayed Choudhury’s statements. Trinamool MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said: “It is our party line that Trinamool Congress is going to be the face of the Opposition under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. Didi went to Delhi in July, she met Sonia Gandhi and requested her to start a larger movement against BJP inside and outside Parliament. No action was taken by the Congress in this regard. We cannot sit idle. Congress has turned into a Twitter party, and fights digital war only.”
‘TMC only talks against Congress and hardly mentions BJP nowadays’
A senior member of the AICC, who did not wish to be named said Prashant Kishor is trying to build an anti-Congress group. “This will help BJP. Trinamool Congress only talks against Congress and hardly mentions BJP nowadays. There is a settlement between them. That is why the Trinamool delegation reached Lakhimpur Kheri, Yogi’s police did not stop them, They are trying to plant stories through some favourable media. but an informed person will never buy their story. How can Yogi’s ruthless police give Trinamool MPs a pass, if there is no order from the top?”
He further added that Kishor had been trying to get in touch with many senior leaders “who were part of G-23 and the ones who recently left Congress. But, I can vouch and say that none from Congress will join Trinamool Congress anymore. Rahul ji and K.C. Venugopal salvaged the situation in Meghalaya also and convinced Mukul Sangma. They are old Congressmen, they will not leave the party despite having some grievances. their grievances are being addressed. Rahul ji is looking after that.”
The Trinamool Congress, which does not have any political base in Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile created a Twitter handle this week — AITC Uttar Pradesh. Through this handle and its main party handle, it has been attacking the Congress.
“We are spreading our base and we are trying to work in other states. We are puting utmost efforts into that. At least we are not sitting at home like Congress. Every political party has the right to aspire to lead the country. Our party has a record of defeating BJP in the past four elections since 2014. Our leader has credentials. What does Congress have to show to the people?” asked senior TMC leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy.
Kunal Ghosh, the party’s state general secretary said:”Abhishek Banerjee has told us that we are going to be the face of the Opposition and we will follow our leader’s order. Congress is not in the position to fight BJP. Someone has to carry the mantle. Trinamool Congress is the fittest. We are hopeful about getting help and assistance from some senior ex-Congress leaders in this.”
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)