Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that she has not yet received any invitation for the meeting of the opposition INDIA bloc scheduled on December 6.
“I have no information about this meeting. No one has informed me anything over phone. In any case, I will be in North Bengal on December 6 and I will stay there for a few days. Had I known earlier (about the meeting), I would have scheduled my programme accordingly. How can I change my schedule at the last moment,” Banerjee said while speaking to mediapersons.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress’ national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee has reached North Bengal on Monday where he is scheduled to attend a family function.
As things stand now, neither Mamata Banerjee nor Abhishek Banerjee will be present at the INDIA bloc meeting on December 6. It is not yet known if the Chief Minister will depute someone else to attend the opposition meeting.
Earlier in the day, both Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee blamed Congress’ ‘high-handed’ attitude for its election debacle in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Both of them advised the Congress to change its attitude towards the other INDIA bloc partners and fight in a united manner against the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The Chief Minister also said that the BJP can be ousted from the Centre if the INDIA bloc partners unite and coordinate to ensure a joint opposition.
TMC raises seat sharing issue
Ahead of the December 6 meeting of the INDIA bloc, the issue of deciding on seat sharing was raised by leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) during a meeting of opposition leaders held on Monday, December 4, to decide the strategy for the Winter Session of Parliament, according to sources.
TMC was represented by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha floor leaders – Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien – in the meeting held in Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s chamber in the Parliament.
It is learnt that at the meeting, TMC leaders said that seat sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls should be concluded soon to give candidates enough time to prepare for the elections.
This came a day after BJP emerged victorious in three Hindi heartland states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh – while Congress won Telangana.
Rumblings in INDIA block
There have been rumblings within the INDIA bloc after Congress’ loss in the three states in the Hindi heartland, with the Samajwadi Party, which was miffed after being ignored in seat-sharing, expressing its displeasure openly.
The SP was also missing from the meeting on Monday morning, the sources said.
Leaders of parties like the Shiv Sena (UBT), JD(U) and Aam Aadmi Party have said that the Congress should be more accommodating of regional allies.
In Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Congress thought it was competent to win against the BJP on its own and did not join forces with the other INDIA alliance parties “due to its greed”.
“Had they joined hands with the other parties, this would not have been the result. They were greedy and lusted for power. They wanted it all for themselves. That is what led to this situation in those states,” the Left leader said.
Meanwhile, TMC leaders stressed at the opposition meeting on Monday that the Winter Session should be used to raise important issues. They insisted that multiple issues should be taken up and the session should not be wasted by protesting on any one issue.
They suggested that the opposition should stage protests, but not force adjournments so that the time can be utilised for raising key issues.
The opposition parties are keen on having a long debate on the three criminal bills meant to replace the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act.
They will also seek a discussion on the Ethics Panel’s report recommending the expulsion of TMC MP Mahua Moitra.
(With inputs from agencies)