Malda: Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched his election campaign in West Bengal from Malda. Addressing a rally in the town, he said that the previous government (of the Left front led by CPM) used to be run for the ruling party and now the State government is being run for one person (Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister).
The Congress president attacked Trinamool Congress head Banerjee, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an election rally. Rahul Gandhi hurled salvos at Banerjee, saying that today the State government was run for a person.
This deals a decisive blow to the leader, Banerjee, who had brought together a plethora of opposition leaders to fight unitedly against the BJP government led by Modi. However, on her home turf, she considers the Congress an insignificant player and, thus, is reluctant to spare seats for it.
Gandhi, a source in the central leadership of the Congress said, spoke today on the basis of the feedback received from the Bengal unit of the party. “This will not affect our relationship with Mamata didi at the national level,” the source said.
After this statement of Gandhi against Banerjee, it has become clear that in the Lok Sabha election, the Congress and the TMC are not allies in West Bengal.
Addressing a gathering here, Gandhi said, “You have seen CPM for years; then, you chose Mamataji. The atrocities which were perpetrated at the time of CPM were the same as what is being witnessed under Mamataji. At that time, the government was run for the ruling party; today it is run for a person.”
Congress to go it alone in Bengal
The Congress has announced the names of its candidates in for 11 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. Congress has started campaigning in these seats.
Before Gandhi’s rally, state Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra had said, “The campaign has started for 11 seats, where we have announced the names of candidates. Party president Rahul Gandhiji will officially launch our election campaign in West Bengal. He will give a message to our party workers too.”
The Congress decided upon this rally after it failed to reach an agreement on seat-sharing even with the Left Front.
Earlier in January, on the initiative of Banerjee, some big names from opposition parties of the country and current and former chief ministers of different states had graced a so-called “United India” rally to challenge the Modi rule. However, Gandhi and his mother Sonia were absent even in that program.
Failed attempt of alliance
Mallikarjun Kharge attended that rally on behalf of the Congress. The party tried to ignore Mamata on every occasion. Meanwhile, Banerjee went about her business of uniting the opposition against the Narendra Modi government of the Centre.
Recently, in Delhi, Banerjee made considerable efforts to form an alliance between the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress, but her attempt failed.
A reason for the Congress apathy towards Banerjee’s TMC could be the fact that she is equally reluctant to take the national party along in her State.
Local Congress workers protested against the increased closeness between the Congress high command and the TMC in January and then the simultaneous talk of contesting the elections in the state. The Bengal unit of Congress was never ready for an alliance with the TMC. Gandhi held several meetings with the leaders of West Bengal Congress and finally, the decision has been taken that the party will try its fate in the Lok Sabha election all alone.
In such a situation, Gandhi is trying to motivate not only the workers of Bengal Congress but also to make the party line clear in the State by attacking Banerjee using strong words.