NEW DELHI, Jan 25: Amidst crumbling down of the INDIA bloc with at least three leaders showing signs of walking out of the group, the Congress leaders on Thursday reiterated confidence in the unity of the opposition parties to take on the ruling BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
A day after the Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party announced their decisions to go it alone in their respective areas of influence, West Bengal and Punjab respectively, and the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seems all set to rejoin hands with the BJP, the Congress leaders on Thursday said the opposition bloc would remain intact.
As the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi-led “Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra” entered West Bengal from Assam through Bashirhat in Cooch Behar district on Thursday, the state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury extended a warm welcome to Mr Gandhi upon his arrival.
Addressing reporters in Cooch Behar, Mr Gandhi accused the BJP and RSS of spreading hatred and violence across the country. He said, “The word ‘Nyaya’ (justice) has been attached to the Yatra because injustice is prevailing across the country. The INDIA bloc will fight against injustice across the country.” Mr Gandhi’s remark exuding confidence in the INDIA bloc came a day after Mamata Banerjee’s decision to go solo in the Parliamentary elections in West Bengal caused ripples in the opposition bloc.
Ms Banerjee’s sudden comments forced the Congress to adopt a conciliatory approach with party spokesperson Jairam Ramesh asserting that the opposition bloc INDIA “cannot be imagined without Mamata Banerjee.” The CPI(M) and Left parties, allies of the Congress within the state and the INDIA bloc at the national level, are expected to join the march. However, the TMC has chosen to abstain, citing a lack of information about the Yatra.
Both Mr Gandhi and Mr Ramesh said on Thursday that the party was hopeful of finding a solution to the seat-sharing impasse with the Trinamool Congress. Mr Ramesh, while speaking to reporters at the Bagdogra airport maintained that Ms Banerjee was indispensable in the fight against the BJP in the country.
“We all want Mamata Banerjee to be a part of the ‘Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra’ as our motto is common… If we want to defeat the BJP in Bengal and India, she is very much needed. Our leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge have immense respect for Mamata ji,” he said. “I don’t want to make any running commentary on seat-sharing, but we want this impasse to end and we will find a solution,” he added.
The Bengal leg of the Yatra covers 523 km across six districts and six Lok Sabha constituencies — Darjeeling, Raigunj, North and South Malda, and two in Murshidabad — spanning five days. This is Mr Gandhi’s first visit to the state since the April-May 2021 assembly polls.
Commencing on January 14 in Manipur, the Yatra is scheduled to cover 6,713 km in 67 days, passing through 110 districts in 15 states before concluding in Mumbai on March 20.