Wary of revolt in Bengal unit, Congress avoids discussion with Opp. parties on political turmoil in Bengal.
New Delhi: The Congress Party, which had jumped in to support Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s open fight against the BJP government at the Centre, seems to have nuanced its stand by Monday after some pragmatic considerations of the ground realities in West Bengal.
Though a host of Opposition parties, including the TMC and the Telugu Desam Party, had said that the issue would be discussed at a meeting of the Opposition parties in Parliament, the leaders present mostly deliberated on Electronic Voting Machines and not the burning political issue of Bengal. Sources told this newspaper that at the Opposition meeting, TMC MP Derek O’ Brien is understood to have raised the issue of the Bengal vs CBI, but CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP T.K. Rangarajan shot it down saying that the meeting has been called only to discuss the issue of Electronic Voting Machines. “This is not the issue on which we had agreed to come. Our PB has issued a statement. Now if you are raising this issue, we also have our own issues to raise. If you are discussing this one, I will have to discuss with my party,” Mr Rangarajan is understood to have said.
At this point, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, at whose office the meeting was being held, told the TMC leader that he would also have to seek clearance from his party chief before the Bengal agenda was taken up at the meeting. Interestingly CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had called upon Congress President Rahul Gandhi in the Congress Parliamentary Party office in the morning.
While the meeting was described a “chance” encounter officially, sources said the CPI(M) General Secretary is understood to have told the Congress president that if he keeps up with the full support to the TMC chief, then members of the Congress Party in West Bengal will flock to join the TMC and might eventually also move to the BJP. This, along with an outburst by senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, might have tipped the scales as far as toning down of the support to the TMC chief was concerned.
Opposing Mr Gandhi’s support to the West Bengal chief minister, Mr Chowdhary had instead called for imposition of President’s rule in the state. The Congress, which is in a direct fight with the Trinamul Congress, has been losing leaders steadily to the ruling party in West Bengal.