Former PCC president of West Bengal Somen Mitra has made up his mind. Somen would give the clarion call to Mamata Banerjee to be a part of the secular, democratic and nationalist front along with the Congress to take on the CPI(M) in Kolkata.
Somen is going to give this call from the podium of the State Congress’ Shahid Minar Rally on Saturday. What’s more, Somen Mitra said that after the public rally he would meet Mamata to push his idea.
Somen’s decision has surprised Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi and his loyalists in Bengal. Because with Somen stealing Priya’s Mamata-card, it is to be seen what Dasmunshi and his men say on Friday in their public meeting at Naxalbari.
“Let them say what they want at Naxalbari, we will give the reply at Shahid Minar. Truth is neither the Congress nor the Trinamool Congress are gaining in Bengal as separate political entities. It is causing division of the Opposition vote bank and benefiting the CPI(M) that is thriving on the fractured mandate of the rivals,” Somen Mitra told the HT.
In a complete U-turn from his earlier position, Somen said only the Congress and Trinamool together on a joint political platform can become a viable alternative to the aspirations of the anti-Left people of the State.
Somen says since BJP is hardly a factor in Bengal, Mamata should not have problems in dumping the NDA to join hands with the Congress. “I know Mamata has bitter experience with the Congress in the past, but being a politician she has to understand the ground reality,” said Somen.
After the public rally on Saturday and his one-to-one meeting with Mamata, Somen would meet AICC president Sonia Gandhi next week and brief her about the ground realities in Bengal and the necessity to have an alliance with Mamata in Bengal.
“Those who are saying that Somen is going against the party line are fools. Somen is following the AICC line on Mamata: leave the NDA and join hands with the Congress,” argued Somen loyalist and Congress Legislature Party leader Manas Bhuniya.
Somen’s new stance has upset the political calculations of Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi lobby in the State Congress. In the last few years, Dasmunshi has emerged as the conduit between Mamata and Sonia. Thus sending the signal that if need arises he can get Mamata around for Sonia Gandhi.
What’s more, Dasmunshi loyalists are peeved with Somen because they have been clamouring for a Congress alliance with Mamata for long but it was Somen and his camp, which had always stood firm against it.
Reacting to Somen’s position, Dasmunshi loyalist and former Congress MLA Shankar Singh pointed out that since 1996 a section within the Congress had been demanding an alliance with Mamata, but Somen had blocked all moves.
In 2001 Assembly poll, Shankar Singh pointed out, when the Congress and Mamata did tie up for the Assembly elections, Somen put up Independent candidates to queer the pitch of Mamata nominees in the elections. Mamata was furious.
Again in 2006 Assembly poll, former MLA Abdul Mannan said, Somen was a stumbling block on the path of an alliance with the Congress. Dasmunshi tried his best but others queered the pitch. So the Dasmunshi loyalists say that Somen’s move is just a political gimmick and Mamata would never accept the proposal of her bete noire.
“Moreover, how can Somen Mitra decide on the Congress line here? It is for the high command to decide that. We are going to Delhi on April 23 to meet Sonia Gandhi and take the political direction from her on Bengal,” said Shankar Singh.
But Somen is unperturbed about it. As the seasoned seven-time MLA Somen Mitra quipped: “Sonia Gandhi doesn’t belong to a group. She is the leader of the Congress. So if someone can go and tell rubbish about us to her, we will also get our chance to do our bit.”