Cong, Left rebuff Mamata’s outreach, hope a sinking TMC can help them float

Mamata Banerjee - The Federal
Mamata Banerjee. File Photo: PTI.

A senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader on Thursday claimed that opposition Congress and CPI (M)’s approach in the state vis-à-vis the ruling party is:  “Hum to dube hai sanam, tujhe bhi lekar dubenge (We have already drowned, darling, but we will drag you down along with us).”

The remark of the TMC leader from the party’s South Kolkata district unit comes a day after the two parties rejected chief minister Mamata Baerjee’s outreach to them to join her fight against the BJP’s attempt to destroy Bengal’s “sanskriti ar sabhyata (culture and civilization).

“I fear that the BJP will change the Indian Constitution. The people of the state are witnessing in Bhatpara (in North 24 Parganas district) what happens if you vote for the BJP.  There is a need for us to come together at this juncture to fight the BJP,” she told the Congress and CPI (M) legislators.

Both the parties, however, snubbed her offer claiming that it was the ruling TMC which was responsible for the saffron surge in the state.

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CPI (M) legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty told The Federal that it was impossible for his party to join hands with the TMC, claiming the ruling party was not politically equipped to take on the BJP ideologically.

“By overreacting to the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan and engaging in clashes, the TMC is only helping the BJP’s cause, jeopardizing the interest of the state,” Chakraborty said.

Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly and Congress legislator Abdul Mannan said the TMC was now getting the taste of its own medicine.

He pointed out that despite winning 211 seats in the 295-member assembly in 2016, the TMC poached at least seven Congress legislators. Now the BJP is applying the same method, he added.

Despite the snub, Banerjee continued to extend an olive branch to her erstwhile arch rivals.  She even told Mannan in the Assembly to give her the list of Congress and the CPI (M) offices being captured by the TMC, as had been alleged by the Congress legislator.  “I will tell police to take action. But nobody should take law into their own hands,” she said.

She apparently even told the party leaders not to make any adverse remarks against the two parties. “Please don’t quote my name,” came the prompt request from the TMC leader who quoted the Urdu couplet to describe the two opposition party’s rebuffs.

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He claimed the way the Congress and the CPI (M) were mounting attack against the ruling party on issues like corruption and unabated political violence was only adding as a force multiplier in favour of the BJP against the TMC.

The TMC leader said the move would only benefit the saffron party which was trying to create chaos in the state to “malign” the TMC government by “fuelling” trouble through false narratives.

The Congress and the CPI (M) on the other hand see a window of opportunity in the faceoff between the TMC and the BJP for them to regain some of their lost grounds.

A recent internal assessment of the left parties attributed their poll debacles to total polarization of votes between the TMC and the BJP. Incidentally, both the TMC and the BJP secured over 40 percent votes in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections thanks to total marginalization of the Left and the Congress.

As the TMC shifts its focus, and more importantly its might, on the BJP, after the May 23 results, the CPI (M) has re-opened around 70 party offices across Bengal, which had stopped functioning after the TMC came to the power in 2011, dethroning the Left Front government.

The Left parties and the Congress are well aware that if the TMC crumbles, many of its supporters, particularly from the minority communities, will come back to their folds. So they are in no mood to back a cornered TMC.

“Our struggle is to strengthen our fight for the working class,” Chakraborty said, reiterating the Left would maintain equidistance from both the BJP and the TMC.