In what could be early signs of a thaw in frosty ties between the now estranged allies, the ruling Trinamool Congress and Congress have sent out positive feelers to each other in the light of recent issues breaking in the state and national political scene.
While the Congress high command has pledged to side with chief minister Mamata Banerjee with regard to the festering political crisis in Darjeeling Hills, Trinamool MPs have refrained from going hard at the Congress in the light of fresh revelations on the dubious land dealings of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Though senior leaders in both camps played hardball and ruled out a fresh spell of alliance, political circles are abuzz over the prospect of the two parties drawing close again.
While the Trinamool’s romp in the panchayat polls and rosy prospects in the Lok Sabha elections make a strong case for the Congress to renew old ties with Mamata, the former still sees Congress as a better bet to ally with than the BJP.
“There’s nothing to it. We refrained from raising the Vadra issue in Parliament, since it doesn’t concern our state. We are against infringing on matters pertaining to other states,” Trinamool national general secretary Mukul Roy told Hindustan Times.
A senior Congress leader too played down talks of an alliance, saying, “We shouldn’t read too much into things. Mamata Banerjee had accused us of fanning dissent in the Hills. However, the Centre has since made it clear that the issue will be dealt with in cooperation with the state government.”
The Trinamool pulled out of the Congress-led UPA 2 on September 2012, citing increasing divergence in key policy matters.
The chief minister has since taken regular pot shots at the Congress and kept with the tirade even after the panchayat polls.
However, CPI(M) leader Md. Salim saw the recent trade-offs as a case of political opportunism, saying, “The Congress and Trinamool have always had a blow-hot-blow-cold relationship. While Mamata has accused us of a nexus with the Congress in Bengal, it is the Trinamool that has done so on the sly. This is clear political opportunism.”
Wary of rubbing Mamata the wrong way, the Congress high command recently extended a cold shoulder to a delegation of GJM leaders, who have been camping in the Capital to lobby for Gorkhaland. None of the top Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, have yet taken out time for the GJM leaders.
The Prime Minister’s Office has already pledged to take the Mamata government along when it comes to dealing with the situation in Darjeeling.