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Bengal Cong remains divided over poll partners

At a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, an alliance with TMC was stated to be a short-term strategy while teaming up with the Left was seen as long-term game plan.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

State Congress presented itself to be a divided house on Friday to AICC chief Rahul Gandhi who talked to different leaders to test the waters before deciding upon the partner to go with in next year’s Parliamentary elections.

While an alliance with Trinamul Congress was stated to be a short-term strategy, teaming up with the Left was stated to be a long-term game plan by a group.

Another group of MPs and MLAs rooted for an electoral understanding with Trinamul which had yielded rich divided in the 2011 state Assembly elections leading to the Left Front’s ouster.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP ) chief and leader of the Opposition laid all his cards before his national leader that pointed to an alliance sans TMC.

At a time when the party is opposing the communal forces led by BJP all over the country, Congress is continually being weakened by TMC which is engineering defections from CLP, Mannan said.

The weakening of the state Congress is helping BJP to spread its organisation in the state, the CLP leader said. Moreover, rhetoric against the BJP apart, the Trinamul leaership seems to be acting on a secret agenda to help the saffron outfit, he said.

Though not too keen on an electoral tie-up with TMC which is eroding the Congress base in his home district Murshidabad, PCC chief Adhir Chowdhury said that he would go by the decision of the national leadership. This is a climbdown for the Behrampore MP who had defeated his TMC rival by a margin which was the highest in the 2014 Parliamentary elections.

Incidentally, the PCC chief had been one of the principal architects of an electoral understanding with the Left Front in 2016 Assembly polls.

Though the Congress-Left combine lost, it was pointed out to the AICC chief during the day that 39 per cent of the total votes in the state were bagged by the two parties who had come together for the first time.

Former PCC chief, Somen Mitra one of the senior-most leaders of the state Congress drew the AICC chief’s attention to the state of party organisation in the state. Given the state of the party organisation, it is not possible for Congress to go it alone in the Parliamentary elections, he said.

The party had to suffer for its misadventure when it had entered the electoral fray sans a partner, Mitra pointed out.

Though his assesment presented before the AICC president that dismal state of the party rank and file in the state, the former PCC chief was not shy of calling a spade by any other name.

Both Deepa Das Munshi and Manoj Chakraborty opposed an alliance with Trinamul Congress.

The ruling party in the state has always acted in its own interest as it had withdrawn support from UPA II government after having come to power in alliance with Congress, it was pointed out.

The agenda of an alliance with Trinamul was strongly advocated by Malda (south) MP, Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and another legislator Moinul Haque Chowdhury.

Given the secular image of Congress, it should seek alliance from Trinamul which had steadfastly opposed BJP in the state as well as in national politics, the duo underscored before the AICC chief.