Mamata Banerjee distancing from Left, Congress to split anti-TMC votes in Bengal, says BJP
TMC started distancing itself from the Left and the Congress from January 7, when state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee dismissed the Left and the Congress’ proposal for passing a motion in the Assembly opposing CAA.Updated: Jan 12, 2020 22:22 IST
Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee is distancing from the Left and the Congress to prevent consolidation of anti-TMC votes with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and to hurt the saffron party’s electoral prospects, alleged BJP leaders.
BJP leaders say it is a shrewd move by Mamata to revitalise the Left and the Congress in Bengal so that these two parties can prevent their votes getting transferred to the BJP like in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Mamata Banerjee, while opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Census-linked National Population Register (NPR) in the same tone as the Left and the Congress, has accused both the parties of strengthening the BJP by disrupting peace.
“She has started highlighting her opposition to the Left and Congress with an ulterior motive. She wants to revitalise these marginalised forces. She wants to create a bigger space for the Left and Congress in the anti-TMC vote bank,” said BJP state unit vice-president Biswapriya Roychowdhury.
BJP state general secretary Raju Banerjee echoed Roychowdhury. “At a time when the battle in Bengal was emerging as one with BJP on one side and all the parties on the other, Banerjee is trying to confuse people. Her intention is to bring the Left and Congress back to prominence so that votes against her party get shared between all the parties and does not go to the BJP alone,” said Banerjee.
TMC started distancing itself from the Left and the Congress from January 7, when state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee dismissed the Left and the Congress’ proposal for passing a motion in the Assembly opposing CAA.
On January 8, TMC opposed the all-India general strike called by Left trade unions and the Congress. Banerjee accused these parties of resorting to violence to enforce the strike. On January 9, she announced to boycott the January 13 all-party meeting against CAA called by Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.
She met Narendra Modi in private in Kolkata on Saturday while Left and Congress supporters took to the streets to stage a protest against the prime minister’s visit and against CAA, NRC and NPR.
“At one point of time, it appeared that all parties were opposed to the BJP in electoral battle. TMC has provoked a confrontation with Left and Congress. Banerjee apparently wants to offer the Left and Congress a bigger space in the anti-establishment vote bank. It’s a shrewd and calculated move,” said Biswanath Chakraborty, a professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University (RBU).
Maidul Islam, who teaches political science at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, said the TMC chief brought the Left and the Congress to prominence in a series of veiled political moves.
“Even if we take at face value her argument that she merely carried out Constitutional responsibilities by meeting Modi, the chain of events hints at a larger political move aimed at projecting the Left-Congress combine as her opponent as well as that of the BJP. TMC is possibly hoping that a revived Left will recover votes lost to BJP,” Islam said.
The Left and the Congress, seem to have received a shot in the arm. “Banerjee’s recent moves have vindicated us. We have been saying that Modi and Mamata are only posing to be rivals but are actually partners,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Md Salim.
State Congress president Somen Mitra said, “She has not only proved her insincerity in the fight against the BJP but also exposed her secret understanding with the saffron party,” said Mitra.
Some political analysts feel Banerjee is playing a risky game.
“In December, she stood next to all opposition leaders at Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s swearing-in ceremony. Now, her boycott of the meeting called by Sonia Gandhi on a flimsy ground will trigger suspicion among people about the seriousness of her battle against the BJP. This way, a revived Left can also eat into the TMC’s share of anti-BJP votes,” said Amal Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency College.
“We don’t need to prove our sincerity in the fight against BJP and against CAA, NRC, and NPR. Mamata Banerjee does not need certificates from anyone. We started the battle and we are leading it. The Left felicitated BJP’s rise in Bengal by transferring their votes to the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. They have been hand in gloves with BJP in Bengal to disturb peace and development. They should be ashamed,” said Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee.