With politics in West Bengal gradually becoming polarised between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP, a section of Congress leaders in the state have called for unification of secular forces to stop "communal politics". Veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan said that there was a strong need for checkmating "communal politics" of the Trinamool Congress manifesting itself in minority appeasement.
"So is the majority polarisation by the BJP...The Congress has been fighting for secularism since its inception, so it is an imperative that secular forces in the state, including the Left, join hands with the Congress," Mannan told PTI. Mannan also said that during his meeting with the Congress high command sometime back, he had floated the idea of Congress forming a secular front in Bengal in order to stop the "Communal BJP and Trinamool". "I have told my leader that although I didn't name the Left, I had hinted at it.
And the Left and Congress coming together for the sake of secularism is nothing new," the veteran leader said. WBPCC president Adhir Chowdhury, however, put his priority on strengthening the party organisation in the state. "Our main aim right now is to strengthen the party in Bengal because if Congress is strenghtened then automatically secular forces will be powerful enough to fight communalism", he said. "We will fight both TMC and BJP in the state with whatever strength we have.
For us both the parties are the same," Chowdhury said. Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed Khan, who is also co-in charge of West Bengal said that now it was too early to talk about any kind of alliance with any party. Reminded that Congress leaders have joined the Left and other intellectuals on a common platform on the issue of Saradha chit fund scam, he said, "Congress can join other secular forces if there is a common platform to fight communal forces". He alleged that the misrule of the TMC was one of the main reasons behind the rise of the BJP in the state.
Congress MP Abhijit Mukherjee, who is the son of President Pranab Mukherjee, without naming any party said, "Just like the Congress, those secular parties or forces who believe that secularism is the basis of our country, can come together under one roof and fight against communal politics."
Left Front major CPI(M) said that it would discuss the matter within the party forum if it received such a proposal from the Congress. "If we receive such a proposal from the Congress of forging a secular front with them in order to stop the communal BJP and Trinamool in the state, we will surely discuss the matter within the party forum," CPI(M) central committee member Basudeb Acharya told PTI. Another Left Front partner RSP said nothing could be ruled out in politics. "In politics nothing can be ruled out. It is true that the state is facing the threat of communalism, so if we get such a proposal from Congress we will discuss it and give it a serious thought," RSP state secretary Khisti Goswami told PTI.
According to senior state Congress leaders, the party which has been losing significance in Bengal politics with series of desertions mainly to Trinamool, is now facing a severe threat from BJP which had secured two seats on its own in the last Lok Sabha poll and increased its vote share to 18 per cent. Subsequently, in last month's by-election, BJP won the Basirshat South Assembly seat, whereas the Chowringhee seat was won by Trinamool.
Congress candidates in both the seats came third. "Whenever such polarisation takes place on communal lines, secular parties like Congress faces the heat. But the Congress will have to fight both the Trinamool and BJP with same vigour," state Congress leader Manas Bhuniya said. Asked about the possibility of Congress forging alliance with Trinamool as in 2009 and 2011, former state Congress president and MP Pradip Bhattacharya said, "Why should we align with a communal party like Trinamool?
It is TMC which has started this brand of communalism by their appeasement of minorities, this has helped the BJP and Hindutava forces like RSS to gain ground".