As TMC inducts more leaders, Mamata Banerjee may lead anti-BJP alliance

Senior TMC leaders have adopted a critical stand against the grand old party and publicly pitched Mamata Banerjee as the “only choice” to lead any non-BJP coalition
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)
Updated on Oct 04, 2021 01:54 AM IST
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BySaubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The All India Trinamool Congress is on an expansion mode with an eye on the 2024 elections, a move to be to prop up party leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as the leader of a possible coalition against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

So far, the party has welcomed into its fold former Congress leaders Sushmita Dev and Luizinho Faleiro, who was formerly the CM of Goa, and is also in talks with Congress leader and former Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma for something similar. Another senior Congress leader has also reportedly contacted Banerjee after failing to get nominated for the Rajya Sabha.

But TMC’s ambition will have larger implications for any alliance involving the Congress as senior Trinamool leaders have adopted a critical stand against the grand old party and publicly pitched Banerjee as the “only choice” to lead any non-BJP coalition.

Trinamool’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay told HT, “If you see the track record of the opposition parties, only Mamata Banerjee can lead a non-BJP coalition in 2024. The Congress party has to be realistic. They have not been able to challenge the BJP in the recent elections. Moreover, Mamata Banerjee is the only leader who is acceptable to many opposition parties wary of the Congress.”

On September 28, the party’s national general secretary and the CM’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, had hit out at the Congress and said, “Our fight is against the BJP. We have defeated BJP for the last seven years. Congress has been defeated by BJP for the last seven years. If the Congress doesn’t work, doesn’t hit the streets and only be in the comfort of their homes then we can’t be expected to be sitting ducks. We want to defeat BJP.”

TMC leader and former Union minister Saugata Ray defended the party’s decision to induct Congress leaders and said, “It’s our legitimate right to expand. But it is not targeted at the Congress.”

Senior TMC leaders privately conceded that the party is uncomfortable about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi leading any anti-BJP formulation. In the last Parliament session, the TMC and Congress worked together on all issues but West Bengal’s ruling party maintained a distance from Rahul Gandhi. Top-ranking Trinamool leaders skipped the breakfast meeting thrown by Gandhi; they have also been absent in the opposition’s strategy meetings whenever Gandhi would be present.

All this has coincided with the Gandhis facing questions on their leadership from people within the Congress organisation with a group of 23 senior leaders or G23 seeking open dialogue and more transparency in the decision-making process of the party.

But a a senior Congress leader said no opposition coalition can be achieved without the Congress. “It’s just not possible numerically. Moreover, the leadership issue can only be decided at an appropriate time based on the strength of different components,” said the Congress leader on condition of anonymity.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021