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After Howrah, Didi to target Congress

kolkata Updated: Jun 07, 2013 13:05 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
Ravik Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Bolstered by the Howrah bypoll victory, Mamata Banerjee now wants to target the Congress to become the only anti-Left face of Bengal before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Trinamool Congress aims to marginalise its former ally by eating into its vote bank, expecting to perform better than the 2009 parliamentary polls and have its say once again at the Centre.

The party is gearing up to follow Mamata’s ‘new arithmetic’, hailed by her minutes after the Howrah results were out, targeting Congress-dominated pockets, including in north Bengal, in the panchayat and Lok Sabha polls.

“Mamata Banerjee is the only and real anti-Left force in Bengal. Congress has a silent alliance with CPI(M). And they paid for that in Howrah. They will pay for it in the upcoming panchayat and Lok Sabha polls. It will be Mamata Banerjee versus all others. In the panchayat and later in the Lok Sabha polls we will do better,” said Sultan Ahmed, Trinamool Lok Sabha MP and party core committee member.

“Mamata Banerjee has a tacit understanding with the BJP and the people of Bengal will realise that. Trinamool’s margin has dropped sharply in Howrah. People are getting disillusioned with her government. And those people will add to our strength,” said Shakeel Ahmed, AICC-incharge of Bengal.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2011 Assembly polls, Mamata followed the alliance mantra. She was successful in uniting the anti-Left vote, which was almost always more than 50% of votes polled in Bengal.

But now party leaders are working on an entirely different strategy of bleeding the Congress in the state, thus taking on the Left.

The party will target its former ally highlighting wrong policy decisions, inflation and corruption issues. Trinamool will go all out to dent Congress strongholds such as Malda and Murshidabad.

In the Howrah bypoll, it was the Congress, which was a primary target for Mamata during her half dozen campaign rallies. The party will follow a similar pattern in the panchayat polls and afterwards.

“Our campaign will target mainly the Congress, and the Left will come next. We will increase our tally, and will be the kingmaker in New Delhi. Either they (Congress) will become extinct in the state, or they will have to fall in line nationally. We do not need them anymore,” said a senior Trinamool leader.

Mamata’s plan comes at a time when the BJP is already sending signals to her, with leaders such as Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi praising her during their Kolkata visit. The party even pulled out its candidate from the Howrah contest, which is reckoned as substantially contributing to Trinamool’s victory.

However, Trinamool also has fears that going with NDA may affect the minority vote bank.