Cong miffed over ‘poaching’ of lone Bengal MLA; TMC says ‘double standards’
West Bengal’s lone Congress MLA’s switch to the TMC has sparked a war of words between the two parties, with the Congress claiming that such “poaching” weakens the Opposition and the other accusing the Congress of “double standards”.
Congress’s lone MLA in the state assembly, Bayron Biswas, switched over to the TMC on Monday (May 29) in the presence of the latter party’s general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
In a sharp attack against Mamata Banerjee’s party, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted on Tuesday, “Three months after he was elected as a Congress MLA in a historic victory, Bayron Biswas has been lured away by the TMC in West Bengal.”
This is a complete betrayal of the mandate of the people of the Sagardighi Assembly constituency in Murshidabad district, Ramesh tweeted. “Such poaching, which has happened earlier in Goa, Meghalaya, Tripura and other states, is not designed to strengthen Opposition unity and only serves the BJP’s objectives,” he added.
Biswas’s crossing over to the TMC and the Congress slamming West Bengal’s ruling party assume significance, as these come at a time when efforts are on to forge Opposition unity to take on the BJP in the 2024 general election.
TMC hits back
Reacting to the allegations, senior TMC leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the Congress has to decide whom they want to fight.
“They can’t claim that they are fighting against the BJP at the Centre by opposing the TMC in Bengal. This double standard has to stop. The policy of Kerala, where the CPI(M) and the Congress are at loggerheads but are allies at the Centre, won’t work in West Bengal,” he told PTI.
The CPI(M) and the Congress have joined hands in West Bengal and are jointly fighting against the TMC and the Opposition BJP in the state.
The TMC’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha claimed that Biswas joined the TMC as he felt that “it is the only force which can fight against the BJP in Bengal”.
“We don’t need lessons from the Congress about how to fight against the BJP. In Bengal, the Congress has aligned with the CPI(M) and has been fighting against us to help the BJP,” he said.
Derek O’Brien tweets
Echoing him, TMC Rajya Sabha party leader Derek O’Brien said the Congress has breached the trust of Opposition unity by fighting against the TMC in Bengal.
“Despite Mamata Banerjee’s support, the Congress vows to fight Mamata Banerjee in Bengal,” Statement from Congress two weeks ago. Congress breaches trust on Opposition unity and then expects bouquets of roses! And about strengthening BJP? Grow up please,” he wrote on the microblogging site.
“Despite Mamata Banerjee’s support Congress vows to fight Mamata Banerjee in Bengal” Statement from Congress two weeks ago. Congress breaches trust on Opposition unity and then expects bouquets of roses! And about strengthening BJP ? Grow up please. https://t.co/7gTXLUhreA https://t.co/UsxrmR7kWC
— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) May 30, 2023
Biswas, a local bidi magnate, won the Sagardighi seat earlier this year in a by-election, beating his TMC rival, much to the consternation of the ruling camp. At the function to join TMC in Ghatal, Biswas claimed that the Congress played no role in his victory, and he won because of his goodwill.
The desertion of the MLA does not come under the purview of the anti-defection law, as he is the lone representative of the Congress in the assembly, and his joining TMC means a merger of the Congress Legislative party with the larger TMC legislative party.
On Monday, Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the TMC was petrified after losing the Sagardighi bypoll and had used everything to poach the Congress MLA.
(With agency inputs)