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‘Join Congress to defeat BJP’: Adhir Ranjan again persuades Mamata Banerjee

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhury on Friday once again offered Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress to join hands with his party to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming elections in West Bengal.

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“She (Mamata Banerjee) should join Congress because it’s not possible to stop the BJP from coming to power in West Bengal without Congress. Congress had single-handedly kept a secular atmosphere in India by combating parties like the BJP for nearly 100 years in India. History is proof as well,” Choudhury was quoted saying by media reports.

Choudhury’s comment was made in a response to a TMC leader’s Wednesday remark stating that the Congress and the Left should support Mamata in her fight against the BJP, a suggestion which was turned down by the two parties. “If the Left Front and the Congress are genuinely anti-BJP, they should rally behind Mamata Banerjee in her fight against the communal and divisive politics of the saffron party,” senior TMC leader Sougata Roy had said while addressing media.

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Choudhury, who is serving as Congress’ West Bengal unit president, had then proposed that the TMC should merge with it instead and put up a united fight against the BJP. To note, Banerjee had founded the All India Trinamool Congress in 1998 after breaking away from the Congress.

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Further taking a jibe at TMC for not forming an alliance with the Congress in the assembly elections in 2011, Choudhary, on Friday, blamed TMC for allowing the BJP to strengthen its base in the state and for weakening the strength of secular parties in West Bengal. Meanwhile, the alliance had won 226 seats in the assembly elections that year, ending the 10-year tenure of then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

“They felt it will be difficult for them to survive without Congress. They came to power with Congress’ help but then left no stone unturned to finish Congress. They weakened secular parties like Congress and Left in West Bengal which made a communal party like BJP rise,” Choudhury said.

Mamata has faced tough opposition not only from the BJP but also from the Congress and the Left Front in the run-up to the state’s assembly elections. Congress leader Abdul Mannan in January had demanded that the CM should prove majority in the state assembly after rumours of several TMC leaders leaving the party to join the BJP surfaced as Suvendu Adhikari joined BJP. “If your claim is true, please appear for a floor test in assembly,” the Congress leader had demanded.

Whereas same sentiments were also shown by CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakrabarty who after the rumours of discontent among TMC leaders had said that he feels that the chief minister does not have the support of an adequate number of legislators.

Pull out of several high-profile leaders from the Trinamool Congress has seemingly forced the party to go back to the drawing board as it is trying to stop the BJP from giving a serious competition in the upcoming elections. December of last year had witnessed the shift of TMC rebel leader Suvendu Adhikari along with five other leaders to BJP in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah.

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However, earlier in January, Congress and CPI(M) had held seat-sharing discussions but leaders from both parties denied forming an alliance with the TMC as they feared that it would result in massive electoral losses. Leaders from both the parties claimed that an anti-incumbency sentiment against the TMC government is prevalent in the state.

The statement of veteran politician, Sitaram Yechury, the CPI(M) general secretary, that came before the seat-sharing meeting established that since the TMC is a former ally of the BJP, his party is reluctant to fight the polls alongside TMC. He had said, “The anti-incumbency sentiment against the TMC government runs so deep and so large that any unity of all the anti-BJP forces will only help the BJP more. It will be counterproductive. People have great anger against the TMC. Aligning with Trinamool will therefore only turn people against us and help the BJP.”

To not, state of West Bengal is scheduled to hold assembly elections this year for 290 seats as the tenure of the current Trinamool Congress-led government is set to end on May 30, 2021. Officials of the Election Commission of India, who visited the state on Thursday, underlined major issues with the state’s law and order situation. The BJP and Trinamool Congress workers have been reportedly involved in several incidents of political violence in the state in the past couple of years, causing loss of lives, injuries and destruction.

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