Trinamool to go soft on Congress, Mamata asks party leaders not to criticise the party

The Trinamool Congress chief has told her party leaders that she will personally handle comments on Congress.

cities Updated: May 19, 2017 17:58 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,Adhir Chowdhury,Trinamool Congress
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury is an unsparing critic of Mamata Banerjee and has warned Sonia Gandhi against any understanding with the Bengal chief minister.(HT Photo)

West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, on Friday, instructed her party leaders to refrain from criticising Congress, a move that indicated a possible realignment of political forces in the state and beyond.

The move seems to be a deliberate design of the party supremo to serve three purposes simultaneously – moving close to an understanding with India’s oldest party, try to prevent BJP’s growing popularity in the state and make the Left more irrelevant.

Read: Second term for President Pranab? Mamata backs him in meeting with Sonia Gandhi

“While she told party leaders they were at liberty to criticise BJP and CPI(M), the chief minister asked them to maintain silence on Congress. She said she will personally make any comment on Congress if any was needed,” a member of the state cabinet who was present at the meeting told HT.

The relation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is passing through an all-time low. (HT Photo)

Later in the legislative Assembly, the chief minister walked up to Congress MLA Abdul Mannan, another unsparing critic of the ruling party, and enquired about his health. She also congratulated Congress MLA, Pratima Rajak, on her impending marriage and gifted her Rs 2,000.

Incidentally, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury is one of the most vocal critics of the Trinamool chief and ardently supports his party’s understanding with CPI(M) in Bengal. The Left parties and Congress regularly organise political activities and issue statements criticising their common opponent Trinamool Congress. Even in the recently concluded polls for seven municipalities in the state, Congress and Left Front had an understanding.

Read: Election results: Why BJP’s sweep in UP could be ominous for Mamata Banerjee

On May 17, 2017, Mamata Banerjee met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, while Chowdhury wrote a strongly worded letter to Gandhi cautioning her against any understanding with Trinamool Congress even on the issue of presidential elections.

BJP president Amit Shah at a slum in Bhawanaipore which is Mamata Banerjee’s Assembly constituency. She has identified BJP as her chief opponent. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Reacting to Friday’s development, Adhir Chowdhury said that the comment was a personal view of the chief minister. “But Congress’s political agenda in West Bengal will not be dictated according to her whims. Congress will operate on its own agenda in West Bengal,” he said.

Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra said that offering support to a non-NDA presidential candidate is Mamata Banerjee’s compulsion. “If she does not support a non-NDA candidate, it will mean that she will supporting the NDA candidate directly or indirectly. But her support for a non-NDA candidate will not compel Congress to have an understanding with Trinamool in West Bengal,” he said.

At the core committee meeting, Mamata Banerjee also asked her party leaders to start groundwork for the panchayat elections next year.

According to a Trinamool Congress leader, “The chief minister asked us to be ready for any eventuality and said that no one should be complacent thinking that there the assembly elections is four years away.” She was referring to the word going around that the Assembly elections may be brought forward to coincide with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

First Published: May 19, 2017 17:58 IST