Kolkata: Amid the internal discord within the INDIA bloc in the state over seat-sharing, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee asserted on Monday that the Left is striving to control the opposition bloc’s agenda, underscoring that no one confronts the BJP as directly as she does.
Addressing an all-faith rally in the city, the TMC leader expressed her unwillingness to accept the Left Front led by CPI(M) controlling the agenda of the INDIA bloc meeting.
“I suggested the name INDIA during the opposition bloc meeting. But whenever I attend the meeting, I find the Left trying to control it. This is not acceptable. I cannot agree with those with whom I had fought for 34 years,” she said.
Banerjee remarked, “Despite such insults, I have adjusted and attended the INDIA bloc meetings.”
In an apparent reference to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being stopped in Assam from visiting the birthplace of Vaishnav saint Srimant Sankardeva, Banerjee remarked, “Just going to the temple isn’t enough.”
She highlighted her proactive stance against the BJP, stating, “How many politicians today took on the BJP head-on? Somebody went to one temple and thought it was sufficient, but it was not. I am the only one who visited the temple, gurudwara, church, and mosque. I have been fighting for a long time. When the Babri Masjid issue (demolition) happened, and violence was taking place, I was on the streets.”
Banerjee’s remarks came as she embarked on a symbolic journey of religious harmony, leading an all-faith rally that included visits to diverse places of worship, such as a temple, mosque, church, and gurdwara, aligning with the consecration ceremony of Ram temple in Ayodhya earlier in the day.
The CPI (M)-led Left Front, Congress, and TMC collectively constitute the 28-party strong INDIA opposition bloc. However, in West Bengal, the CPI(M) and Congress have aligned against the TMC and BJP.
Without explicitly mentioning the Congress, Banerjee criticised them for delaying seat-sharing discussions in the state.
“I have the power and mass base to take on the BJP and fight against them. But some people don’t want to listen to us about seat sharing. If you don’t want to fight the BJP, then at least don’t give away seats to them,” she remarked.
Her comments followed her assertion during an internal party meeting three days ago that the TMC is prepared to independently contest all 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal if not given due importance.
Fissures within the INDIA opposition bloc have become evident, particularly between its key allies, Congress and TMC, regarding seat-sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal.
The TMC’s offer of two seats based on Congress’s 2019 Lok Sabha election victories was deemed insufficient by the grand-old party, escalating tensions between the two parties.
The development coincided with state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a vocal TMC critic, asserting that his party wouldn’t “beg” for seats from the TMC.
In the 2019 elections, TMC secured 22 seats, Congress won two, and BJP secured 18 seats in the state.
Chowdhury, also the Congress leader in Lok Sabha, won the Baharampur seat, while Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, a former Union minister, secured a third consecutive term from Malda Dakshin seat.
The TMC recently decided to abstain from an INDIA bloc virtual meeting and emphasised the necessity for Congress to recognise its limitations in Bengal and permit the TMC to spearhead the state’s political battle.
The TMC had previously allied with the Congress in the 2001 assembly polls, the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, and the 2011 assembly polls, leading to the ousting of the CPI(M)-led Left Front government of 34 years.