Allies Congress, CPM step up attack on TMC ahead of Bengal bypoll
Even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury shared the dais during the opposition I.N.D.I.A bloc’s third meeting in Mumbai on Friday, Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and CPI(M) state secretary Md Salim together fired salvos at the Trinamool Congress while campaigning for the by-poll in Dhupguri Assembly constituency scheduled on September 5.
While Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, and Yechury were taking the same line to build a united opposition against the BJP at the national level, Chowdhury and Salim made it clear that in Bengal it is the Trinamool Congress which is the main “enemy” rather than the BJP. Both Salim and Chowdhury have described the Trinamool Congress as a clandestine benefactor of the BJP.
“While Narendra Modi is looting the entire country, Mamata Banerjee is looting West Bengal”, was the common refrain of Salim and Chowdhury at the campaign rally. The Congress is backing the CPI(M) candidate Ishwar Chandra Roy in Dhupguri instead of fielding its own candidate.
The Trinamool Congress leadership has refuted the scathing attacks by Salim and Chowdhury and described both of them as clandestine agents of the BJP. Party spokesman Riju Dutta has demanded that the Congress high command should caution Chowdhury for taking such a stand, ignoring the national policy of his own party.
“At a time when Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi, and Sitaram Yechury are together to fight BJP at the national level, Salim and Chowdhury are acting as traitors and clandestine agents of BJP. It is because of them that both the parties were reduced to zero in terms of Assembly presence in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls as they tried to benefit BJP together by dividing opposition votes,” he said.
Meanwhile, rumblings of discontent have started in the state Congress as rebel state Congress leader and Calcutta High Court counsel Kaustav Bagchi, who had always been extremely vocal against a possible Congress and Trinamool Congress partnership in West Bengal, was removed from the list of the party’s spokespersons in West Bengal following a directive from the party high command.
The charges against Bagchi are that while he was so vocal against the Trinamool Congress, he was surprisingly silent about the BJP in public forums. He has also been accused of publicly criticizing Congress leaders and advocates like Abhishek Manu Singhvi and P Chidambaram for holding legal briefs for Trinamool Congress leaders accused of corruption in the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court.
However, the decision of the party high command to remove him from the list of party spokespersons could not silence Bagchi and he has claimed that no amount of punishment can suppress his voice against the state’s ruling party or stop him from describing the Trinamool Congress as a “party of thieves”.
Bagchi’s comments have received massive support from ordinary Congress workers in the state on social media, who also said that an understanding with the Trinamool Congress is unthinkable with many workers being killed during the recently concluded state panchayat polls and the TMC trying to poach Congress leaders.
This growing popularity of Bagchi in the post-punishment phase has made the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee insiders worried that if this persists then the Congress might face another exodus in West Bengal, with the hardcore anti-Trinamool Congress factions either shifting to the BJP or even the CPI(M) or the Naushad Siddique- led All India Secular Front or become totally inactive at the time of elections.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s state leadership, especially the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Suvendu Adhikari, have become active in taking advantage of the growing unrest in the Congress on the issue. While giving an open call to Bagchi to join the BJP, Adhikari has also appealed to the hardcore anti-Trinamool people to either join the BJP or form an independent anti-Trinamool forum.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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