Surprise move by Mamata: No tie-up with Congress shocks INDIA bloc

Mamata Banerjee, expressing her frustration, stated that any possibility of a pan-India alliance with the Congress would only be considered post-election results. 

| Updated: 24 January, 2024 7:33 pm IST
Tension escalates within the India Alliance. Illustration by Aditi Pandey.

NEW DELHI : The Trinamool Congress has unequivocally declared its intent to contest the elections for all 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal independently. Mamata Banerjee, expressing her frustration, stated that any possibility of a pan-India alliance with the Congress would only be considered post-election results. 

This announcement seems to deliver a decisive blow to the lingering hopes of an agreement between the two parties, both crucial members of the Indian opposition bloc.

Addressing the lack of discussions with the Congress, Mamata Banerjee emphasised her party’s commitment to fighting solo in Bengal. Despite offering multiple proposals to the Congress, all were rejected. She asserted, “I am not concerned about what will be done in the rest of the country, but we are a secular party and, in Bengal, we alone will defeat BJP.”

In a further display of strained relations, Banerjee criticised Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra,’ noting the absence of courtesy in informing her about the visit to her state.

“They are coming to my state… but did not have courtesy to inform me, even though I am part of the INDIA bloc. So there is no relations with me, as far as Bengal is concerned,” she told while addressing the media.

The Congress swiftly responded through Jairam Ramesh, insisting that the India bloc is incomplete without Mamata Banerjee. 

He said, “Party cannot imagine INDIA bloc without Mamata, all INDIA partners will unitedly fight Lok Sabha polls in Bengal”.

While acknowledging small differences, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal expressed confidence in sorting out issues through talks with Trinamool.

“There will be an alliance in West Bengal. Our aim is to decrease BJP seats. (We) will talk to Trinamool. Mamata Banerjee is a senior leader in INDIA alliance. These are small differences (that) will be sorted.”

BJP’s Amit Malviya seized on Banerjee’s announcement, labelling it a “sign of desperation” and suggesting it reflects her struggle to maintain political relevance.

The ongoing dispute between Trinamool and Congress over seat-sharing in Bengal, and the larger question of how the India opposition might challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, has persisted for weeks without resolution. 

Banerjee criticised the Congress’ demand for 10-12 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal as unjustified, pointing to their poor performance in previous elections.

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According to media reports, Banerjee directed Trinamool leaders in specific districts to plan for five Lok Sabha seats independently. 

This move includes key seats in Murshidabad district, where Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury holds influence. Chowdhury, opposed to sharing seats with Trinamool, declared that Banerjee owed her success to the “mercy” of the Congress.

While Rahul Gandhi played down the attacks, emphasising the closeness between Mamata Banerjee and the Congress, the larger issue of seat-sharing and the role of regional parties in defeating the BJP continues to strain relations between the two opposition forces. 

Banerjee urged the Congress to consider leaving certain regions to regional parties with a better chance of challenging the BJP, highlighting her party’s success against the saffron party in recent years.

 

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