Will not sign letter written on Congress’ letterhead: TMC

TMC’s reason for not signing the letter from opposition parties demanding a JPC probe in Adani controversy shows the deepening divide between the party and Congress

NEW DELHI | Updated: 17 March, 2023 4:07 am IST
TMC RS MP Derek O'Brien and senior LS MP Sougata Roy (TNI Photo By Amit Rawat)

The growing differences between Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Congress took another turn, with TMC explaining why it did not sign the letter to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) demanding a probe into allegations against the Adani group.

The rift between TMC and Congress has already put a big question mark on the opposition’s dream of forming a united front against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 general election.

The relationship between the two parties – that have a tumultuous relationship – nosedived to greater depths in the run-up to the Meghalaya election.

Still smarting under the defection of 12 Congress MLAs, including former Chief minister Mukul Sangma, to TMC last year, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that TMC is working as a B-Team of the BJP.

The fiery national general secretary of the TMC, Abhishek Banerjee, wasted little time to respond, saying that Congress’ “irrelevance, incompetence and insecurity have put them in a state of delirium”.

While TMC failed to make any big inroads in the recently held assembly elections in three northeastern states, that was no deterrent as it decided to go solo in the 2024 general elections. TMC’s decision virtually put an end to speculations about a united opposition joining hands to stop the BJP juggernaut.

“With this situation and the kind of statements issued against TMC every day in Bengal, we will not sign a letter written on the Congress’s letterhead,” TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said on Thursday.

“The Congress party needs to make up its mind. In Tripura, they were friends with the Left. In Bengal, they fought against us. But in Kerala, they became fierce rivals,” O’Brien said, before adding, “Trinamool is very clear that you can’t have separate rules.”

“In Meghalaya, before the elections, Congress wrote a litany of how bad the Trinamool is. One of their seniormost leaders made wild charges against us,” he added.

Incidentally, TMC had skipped all meetings called by Congress on the critical issue of opposition unity.

On Wednesday, March 15, most of the opposition party leaders met and discussed strategies regarding the Adani controversy. A proposal letter was also signed by like-minded Members of Parliament. Opposition parties also took to the streets, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe against Adani.

TMC, however, distanced itself from the opposition’s protest. Instead, TMC leaders staged a protest in front of Gandhi Murti.

On being asked about TMC’s non-participation in JPC, the party stated officially that it wanted a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry.

“We raised this issue in the earlier session. We want a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry,” O’Brien said. “There are other parties who want a JPC, and I respect their opinion. But the Trinamool Congress has a very clear view of this,” he said before adding, “All opposition parties are on the same page as far as demanding an inquiry.”

Explaining why TMC prefers an SC monitored probe, O’Brien said, “The JPC chairperson is a member of the ruling party, the party will have the most members in the JPC.”

“If we looked at the history of the last 12 JPCs, we would see that JPCs have a history of brushing issues under the carpet. My party took a conscious call to opt for a Supreme Court-monitored probe instead,” he added.

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