Kolkata: As chaos in the Congress became more prominent Wednesday with the G-23 publicly calling on the leadership to take stock, Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee also targeted the national party, saying it “does not work, does not hit the street and loves to remain in the comfort of their homes”.
The barbs by the Trinamool leader, who is also West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, came on a day the party inducted Luizinho Faleiro into its fold. Faleiro, a Goa MLA and former CM, was a senior leader with the Congress.
“If Congress chooses to be silent against BJP, we cannot be expected to be sitting ducks. We want to defeat the BJP. We have been defeating the BJP in the last seven years. Congress has been defeated by the BJP in the last seven years,” said Abhishek at the induction ceremony.
The party leader, along with his former poll strategist Prashant Kishor, has been instrumental in poaching Congress leaders such as Sushmita Dev, who joined the Trinamool in August. Abhishek is also known to be close to Congress’s G-23 leaders, such as Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal. Both Singhvi and Sibal have fought cases for the Trinamool and the Bengal government in the Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court.
The G-23 is a group of 23 leaders who last August wrote to interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, calling for a full time and effective leadership. Earlier in the day, Sibal said a G-23 leader had written to Gandhi asking for the Congress Working Committee to convene and discuss the party’s crisis in Punjab and the spate of leaders quitting the Congress, among other issues.
Refusing to comment on this development, Abhishek said, “It is for the Congress leadership to answer about the grievances and issues the G-23 leaders are talking about.”
Abhishek is the first senior Trinamool leader, apart from CM Mamata who was once a Congress leader, to attack the Congress directly.
In an editorial today, the Trinamool’s mouthpiece Jago Bangla that works under Abhishek’s direct supervision, wrote: “Congress has failed the nation. It is not Trinamool’s responsibility if their senior leaders have lost faith in the party and want to join Didi to fight against BJP. How can Trinamool be blamed for the chaos inside Congress?”
On the BJP and the ongoing Enforcement Directorate’s probe against him, Abhishek said, “We will never bow down before the BJP. They cannot threaten and intimidate us by sending agencies after us. We have been fighting and we will take the fight forward.”
Both Abhishek and his wife are under the scanner in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal.
Trinamool going solo in Goa
Faleiro was inducted into the Trinamool after his meeting with Mamata at Nabanna Wednesday.
“I am on a mission to re-unite the fragmented Congress family, broken into parts — Trinamool, YSR(CP), Sharad Pawar and so on. I want all of them to join hands and fight against BJP,” he said.
“I will not criticise Rahul Gandhi and our party president (Sonia), but I see a leader in Mamata, who has fire when she quits Congress and she has power (sic),” Faleiro added.
Talking to ThePrint, the Goa MLA added, “I have quit Congress for a reason. I will fight them in Goa next year. This time, it is going to be a straight fight between BJP and Trinamool Congress as the people of Goa are really upset with the BJP. And the Congress has failed them in 2017, when the party could not form government despite winning 17 of 40 seats.”
Political battle lines are being drawn in Goa which goes to polls in 2022. The Trinamool though, which has had no presence in the tiny western state so far, has decided to go it alone.
“In Goa, Trinamool is going to fight the upcoming election by itself. Hope this puts a rest to all speculations,” Abhishek said as he ruled out an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, which is also trying to open an account in the coastal state before the election.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)