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Congress Attempts to Mend Fence with TMC after Adhir Ranjan’s Remarks

Congress Attempts to Mend Fence with TMC after Adhir Ranjan’s Remarks

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 2: The Congress has attempted to mend its relations with the West Bengal ruling party Trinamool Congress after its Lok Sabha leader allegedly favoured BJP over the TMC.

The Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s video clip with his reported comment during an election rally telling the voters that it was “better to vote for the BJP than TMC” has kicked off a sumptuous controversy with Trinamool, an ally in the big-tent Opposition bloc INDIA, taking the stab of criticism not so lightly.

“The Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha is saying, ‘vote for BJP or Congress’. Think about it, there is neither ideology nor ideals. Some selfish people like him have sold off the country,” said Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday.

In an eight-second video clip during an election rally in Bengal’s Murshidabad on Tuesday, which has gone viral in the social media, Mr Chowdhury is heard saying “it’s better to vote for the BJP than to vote for the TMC.” The Congress, however, was quick to label the video “doctored” and has sought help from the Election Commission.

Jairam Ramesh, Congress’ communication in-charge, on Thursday said the goal of his party was to bring down the numbers of the BJP in Bengal, underscoring that the Trinamool was part of the INDIA bloc though the two parties are not in seat-sharing alliance in the state. “I do not know the context of what Adhir ji said, but we aim to reduce the numbers of BJP in West Bengal significantly,” Mr Ramesh said.

“They won 18 out of 42 seats, we have to reduce their numbers and that is the only goal. This is not an assembly election, this is a Lok Sabha election. Congress, along with Left parties, is part of the INDIA bloc, TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has also said they are part of the INDIA bloc, though we are not in a seat-sharing arrangement,” he said.

The Trinamool holds Mr Chowdhury, who is also the West Bengal Congress chief and a fierce critic of Mamata Banerjee, responsible for the breakdown of seat-sharing discussions with Congress in the state. In a post on X, the Trinamool said after acting as the “eyes and ears of BJP in Bengal,” Mr Chowdhury has now been promoted to be the “voice of the BJP in Bengal.”

“Listen to how the B-Team member is openly asking people to vote for the BJP – a party that refused to release Bengal’s rightful dues and deprived our people of their rights. Only a Bangla-Birodhi can campaign for the BJP, which has repeatedly insulted Bengal’s icons,” the Trinamool said.

On Wednesday, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee, the No. 2 in the party, accused Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of being an agent of the BJP and held him responsible for obstructing the formation of the opposition INDIA bloc in the state. “We all wanted the INDIA bloc to happen in Bengal. But Chowdhury prevented it to strengthen the hands of the BJP,” the Trinamool general secretary said.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, The Trinamool won 22 out of 42 seats in the state, BJP 17, and Congress got two seats.




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