After Meghalaya defections, Congress says 'conspiracy' against it in northeast
The Congress alleged on Thursday that there was a ‘conspiracy’ against it not only in Meghalaya, but the whole of northeast, a day after 12 out of 17 party legislators in the state jumped ship to the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Wednesday’s development means that the Congress is no longer the principal opposition party in the state, with the Trinamool taking over the mantle.
“The conspiracy to break the Congress is happening not only in Meghalaya, but the whole northeast. I challenge (West Bengal) CM Mamata Banerjee to first elect them (Congress MLAs) on her party’s symbol and then formally welcome them to her party,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress MP and the president of its West Bengal unit, said, according to news agency ANI.
On Banerjee not meeting interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, Chowdhury remarked that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have been ‘angry’ had the meeting taken place. “If she (Banerjee) meets Sonia Gandhi now, then PM Modi will get angry. Her actions changed soon after her nephew (Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee) was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Before this, she wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi to fight against the BJP together,” he said.
Though the TMC chief, who is an official visit to Delhi met PM Modi, she did not meet Gandhi. Banerjee explained, “This time, I only sought time from the PM. Why should we meet Sonia Gandhi every time? It is not constitutionally mandated.”
Chowdhury, meanwhile, further alleged that the recent defections from the Grand Old Party to the TMC were orchestrated by poll strategist Prashant Kishor and former Goa CM Luizinho Faleiro. While Kishor played an instrumental role in the TMC’s victory in the West Bengal assembly elections earlier this year, Faleiro, a former Congress leader himself, joined Banerjee’s party in September.
There have been tensions between the two parties in recent times over TMC’s ‘poaching’ of current and former Congress leaders. With an aim to expand beyond West Bengal after winning a third consecutive five-year term in the eastern state, the Trinamool has inducted leaders such as Faleiro, Sushmita Dev, Abhijit Mukherjee, Kirti Azad, Ashok Tanwar, among others. The new inductees from Meghalaya include former CM Mukul Sangma.