Congress criticises Mamata Banerjee for offering only ‘2 seats’; TMC alleges ‘double game’

| Updated: 05 January, 2024 11:08 am IST

New Delhi: Tensions flared within the INDIA bloc in West Bengal as Congress clashed with Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee over seat allocation, exposing the underlying rift between the opposition parties.

West Bengal Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury dismissed Banerjee’s offer of two out of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, asserting their ability to secure more seats independently.

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Chowdhury accused Banerjee of displaying insincerity by proposing seats already held by Congress MPs. He said, “The real intention of Mamata Banerjee is out. They are saying that they (TMC) will give two seats (to Congress) in West Bengal. Those seats already have Congress MPs. What new are they giving us? .We won these two seats by defeating Mamata Banerjee and the BJP. What favour are they doing to us?”

“Who will trust her (Mamata Banerjee)? It is Mamata who needs Congress to win… Congress can fight and is capable of winning more seats on its own. We will show. We don’t need to keep these two seats on Mamata’s pity,” he added.

In retaliation, TMC’s Kunal Ghosh condemned Chowdhury’s stance, labelling him BJP-aligned and highlighting Congress’s zero performance in the 2021 Assembly polls in an alliance with CPM. Ghosh defended TMC’s self-sufficiency against the BJP and criticised Congress for their duplicity.

“Adhir Chowdhury is behaving like a BJP person. In the 2021 Assembly polls, TMC fought the battle alone but Adhir Chowdhury’s party fought in alliance with CPM and got zero. What is he talking about? TMC doesn’t need anybody to fight the BJP, but for the sake of INDIA alliance, our leader Mamata Banerjee is fully cooperating. But Congress is playing a double-faced game,” Ghosh claimed.

Banerjee’s recent inclination towards TMC contesting the elections independently was reiterated last month, emphasising TMC’s capability to counter the BJP in West Bengal.

The rift in seat sharing isn’t confined to Bengal alone. Punjab too witnessed friction between AAP and Congress, both hinting at separate election forays. Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring on Thursday affirmed the AICC’s directive to contest all 13 seats, indicating a potential divergence from a united approach.

He said, “AICC has told us to compete on all 13 seats…In the meeting today there was no discussion about Punjab on seat sharing or alliance. We have prepared to compete for all 13 seats. We will discuss the candidates and strategy to contest elections in the coming 3-4 months.”

Meanwhile, BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi derided the INDIA bloc’s disunity, emphasising a lack of trust among its constituents and predicting electoral setbacks against PM Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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In the previous month, Banerjee implied her desire for the Trinamool Congress to independently contest the Lok Sabha elections. She conveyed to party members that solely TMC holds the ability to impart a lesson to the BJP within the state of West Bengal. She said, “Only TMC can teach the BJP a lesson in West Bengal and set a model for others across the country. No other party can do it.”

West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats. In 2019, the BJP notably secured 18 seats, but in the 2021 Bengal assembly elections, the party fell short of its anticipated performance as the TMC achieved a sweeping victory.

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