Kolkata: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has yet again expressed her intention to forge plans for the future without the Congress.
While clarifying that she doesn’t have anything personal against the Congress, the West Bengal Chief Minister told Bengali news channel ABP Ananda Monday, “No regional party shares good terms with the Congress, only one or two parties are obligated as they have formed the government together. But the TMC will go its way, the Congress will go their way.”
Banerjee’s comments come as she has proposed, in a conversation with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, a meeting of all non-NDA chief ministers to discuss the allegedly increasing curbs on “state autonomy” under the Modi government.
In January, Banerjee personally approached Sonia Gandhi with an offer for an alliance in the Goa assembly polls, but didn’t get a positive response from the Congress president.
TMC and Congress ties have been tense in recent months, with TMC leaders openly attacking the Congress and its members during political campaigns. Relations have only worsened with many Congress leaders joining the TMC over the past few months in Goa, Meghalaya and West Bengal.
Banerjee herself has criticised the Congress for not doing enough to counter the BJP.
In December, when she visited Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar during a trip to Mumbai to discuss the possibility of forming a strong Opposition front to take on the BJP, she had told the media, “There is no UPA (United Progressive Alliance).”
Hinting at the Congress, she had added, “We believe in a strong alternative… We want to fight. What can we do if someone is not fighting?”
As Mamata Banerjee and other regional leaders like Stalin, Thackeray and Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao plan to unite Opposition leaders across the country, the Congress for now is missing from their plans. Banerjee has been projecting herself as a strong leader capable of forming a united front against the BJP.
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Moves for an Opposition coalition
Banerjee’s proposal for a meeting of Opposition CMs has ostensibly to do with protecting the country’s “federal structure”. More importantly, preparations for the bigger battle of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections may also be on the agenda.
M.K. Stalin announced on Twitter Sunday that a “convention of Opposition CMs” will soon happen in New Delhi.
Telangana CM KCR also informed the media Sunday that he had received a call from “Mamata behen”, saying that she had invited him to Kolkata or that Mamata herself might visit Hyderabad to discuss the Opposition strategy.
Asked if it would be a non-Congress front, KCR said, “There are so many political leaders across the nation, we are discussing.” He also added that a meeting with Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai was also on the cards.
However, the NCP and the Shiv Sena so far haven’t spoken against the Congress, since they are allies in Maharashtra’s ruling coalition.
Tussle with governor on the agenda
Ever since he was appointed West Bengal governor in July 2019, Jagdeep Dhankhar and Mamata Banerjee have clashed over a number of issues. The TMC government has, over the past two years, repeatedly accused Dhankhar of “interfering” in the state’s governance.
In the latest incident, the governor prorogued (discontinued) the West Bengal legislative assembly on 12 February.
In her phone call with Stalin, Banerjee brought up the alleged “misuse of powers” of governors of non-BJP states, and got a positive response from the Tamil Nadu CM.
The act to prorogue the assembly, wrote Stalin on Twitter, “is without any propriety expected from the exalted post and goes against established norms and conventions”.
The Tamil Nadu CM also wrote in another post that Mamata had told him of her concern about the “brazen misuse of power by governors of non-BJP rules states”.
“I assured DMK’s commitment to uphold state autonomy,” he wrote.
On 31 January, Mamata Banerjee, while addressing a news conference at the state secretariat, announced that she had blocked Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Twitter due to his “unethical and unconstitutional statements”.
A day before Dhankhar prorogued the assembly, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray submitted a motion in the House Friday, asking President Ram Nath Kovind to remove Dhankhar as governor.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)
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