West Bengal-based Congress leaders have told the party high command that there was a strong possibility of some sitting MLAs breaking away and joining the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.
The Congress has 42 MLAs in the 295-member West Bengal Assembly, the TMC 213, while the CPM has 26. According to senior Kolkata-based party leaders, Banerjee was in touch with at least 10-15 Congress MLAs who are putting pressure on the party high command to go for an alliance with the TMC and desert the CPM with whom the Congress had contested the 2016 Assembly elections.
“A section of party MLAs want to join hands with the TMC as they feel that the TMC will be in power in the years to come, while another section wants to stick with the Left. The Congress high command is unable to decide on how to tackle this issue. Sensing this, Mamata Banerjee is asking these MLAs to make their move quickly, following which the Congress MLAs supporting the TMC have communicated to the party high command that if a decision is not taken quickly, they will join the TMC,” a senior Congress party functionary said.
Similarly, the group supporting the alliance with CPM, too, has given a detailed proposal to the high command stating why it is prudent to stick with the Left, a senior Congress party functionary said. However, the other section strongly believes that an alliance with the Left would be fruitful for both the Congress and the CPM.
Omprakash Mishra, general secretary of Bengal Congress who had earlier sent a “21 Steps” proposal to Rahul Gandhi detailing why the Congress should go with the Left, said, “It is Mamata Banerjee who doesn’t want the Congress and Left to come together as this alliance will be detrimental to her party’s prospect and it’s she who is triggering this rebellion by instigating some of our MLAs,” he said.
Following this tussle within the Bengal Congress, Rahul Gandhi met many senior leaders of Bengal Congress individually in Delhi on Friday.
The meeting lasted for over three hours and all these leaders communicated their point to the party president.
Those who met Rahul Gandhi included West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, senior Congress leader Deepa Das Munshi, Omprakash Mishra and Moinul Haque, among others. Haque, who is a Congress MLA from Farakka, is among those who publicly expressed that the Congress should leave the Left and join hands with the TMC.