After a gap of six years, Congress and the Trinamool Congress are coming close again in West Bengal.
In a hush-hush meeting, former PCC chief Somen Mitra and Mamata Banerjee have agreed to formalise ties between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress in the run-up to the panchayat polls, due early next year.
And the first step in this direction was taken on Thursday, when Congress leaders went along with Mamata and leaders of PDS, SP, JD(U) and Naxals to Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi to give a memorandum on the present situation in Nandigram.
Waiting in the pipeline is the meeting between Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind State Secretary Siddiqullah Chowdhury and Mamata. Siddiqullah, who is out of town, has spoken with Mamata over the telephone and has promised to join her movement against the CPI(M) in Kolkata.
Earlier on Wednesday, Somen Mitra-loyalist and PCC General Secretary Jayanta Bhattacharya attended the Krishi Jamin Bachao Committee meeting that was presided by Mamata at Trinamool Bhavan.
"There is tremendous pressure from below on the Congress leadership in here and so they have decided to join the mainstream Opposition movement. Congress has officially announced that henceforth it would participate in all our movements," said senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy.
Indeed Somen said that if Congress maintains its present stand of keping aloof from Mamata, it is going to be washed out in all the ensuing elections here.
"So Congress has become part of the Krishi Jamin Bachao Committee. As long as the BJP was present, we could not join, but now that the BJP has stepped out of it, Congress would soon share platform with Mamata," Somen Mitra told HT over telephone from Delhi.
With Mamata – fast moving away from the BJP in the State politics – and seen very little with the NDA leaders at the Centre – the State Congress is inching towards her to make a political capital of the farmers' movement that is gaining ground in Bengal.
Somen and Mamata met in the last week of April and both agreed that the coming together of the Congress and the Trinamool would send the right signal to the people and prevent the polarisation of anti-Left votes that constitute nearly 50 per cent of the total electoral franchise in the state.
"Somen Mitra's gesture is positive. I have been saying for long that all Opposition forces should be a part and parcel of the Krishi Jamin Bachao Committee to fight the CPI(M) in Kolkata. This is a front that enables all political parties to maintain its own identity, despite being a part of it," said Mamata.
Somen, who is in Delhi for medical check-up, said that after returning to the city he would sit with Mamata to plan a public meeting where the Congress leaders would share the dais with her.
After May 2001, Congress is again coming close to Mamata. Somen's growing closeness to Mamata has also attracted Siddiqullah. Mamata had been trying to get Siddiqullah to join her political movements as she doesn't want the anti-Left Muslims votes to get divided in the state.
And now that Somen has built bridges with Mamata, the former PCC secretary under Somen Mitra presidentship Siddiqullah Chowdhury has no problems following his mentor's footsteps.