Malda (West Bengal):
In remarks that indicated that the INDIA bloc’s troubles in Bengal are far from over, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today said the Congress must part ways with the CPM if they want any tie-up with her party.
The Bengal Chief Minister also said that the Congress had rejected the Trinamool’s offer for two seats during seat-sharing negotiations and now she “won’t give a single seat”.
The CPM has physically attacked me on several occasions in the past. I was mercilessly beaten up. I am alive only because of the blessings of my well-wishers. I can never forgive the Left, I can never forgive the CPM. So those who are with CPM today, they can also be with the BJP. I won’t forgive them,” she told a gathering in Malda.
Incidentally, her remarks came on a day when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra re-entered Bengal after its Bihar leg.
“I told congress you don’t have a single MLA in the assembly. We will give you two parliamentary seats and we will make sure your candidate wins. But they want more seats, so I told them I won’t give you a single seat until u leave the company of the Left,” she said.
The CPM has earlier ruled out an alliance with the Trinamool. Back in June, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury had said, “Mamata Banerjee and the CPM will not happen. There will be secular parties along with the Left and the Congress in Bengal which will fight against the BJP and the TMC,” he had said.
Seat-sharing talks between the Trinamool and Congress hit a roadblock a week back when Ms Banerjee announced that her party will contest the Lok Sabha polls alone and any decision on an alliance will be taken after the election.
The Trinamool blamed Congress’s hard bargaining and strong remarks by its state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for Ms Banerjee for the situation. Mr Chowdhury had argued that the two seats being offered to the Congress were the party’s strongholds anyway, and said the Congress is equipped to win elections on its own. In a personal attack on the Trinamool supremo, he had called her an “opportunist” leader.
Following Ms Banerjee’s outburst, the Congress leadership swiftly moved into damage control and said it cannot imagine an INDIA bloc without Mamata Banerjee. The Trinamool chief’s remarks today suggest that the issue is nowhere close to being sorted.
Trinamool is just one among the regional forces locked in a tug-of-war with the Congress over seat-sharing. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has said they are preparing to contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state. In Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has announced 16 candidates amid seat-sharing talks. Mr Yadav has stressed that he is doing what is best for the party and a clearance from Congress is not needed.
The exit of the Nitish Kumar-led JDU from INDIA bloc and its allegation that the Congress is trying to hijack the alliance has only pushed the grand old party into a corner as it preps for the big fight against the BJP.