‘The TMC has made it clear that the Congress alone will not decide the Opposition’s programme’.

 

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee has again spoken out against the “dominance” of any party or individual in the process of forming an Opposition alliance. The idea that the Congress is gaining the upper hand in any joint programme of the Opposition has been circulating for some time. The impression gained further strength due to the lack of presence of the TMC in multiple Opposition programmes in Delhi initiated by Rahul Gandhi.

At a meeting of the Opposition on Friday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi called on Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee to form a “core committee” to work out the alliance’s course of action. In that case, the core committee can give directions on what steps the Opposition needs to take in a joint manner. After Friday, the TMC mouthpiece Jago Bangla wrote on Saturday, “No leader, policy required”; the people of the country will lead the front.

Mamata Banerjee wanted to point out to those who did not get a call, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at the meeting called by Sonia Gandhi. She said that the Opposition parties which are not affiliated to the Congress should also be called. She questioned why Dipankar Bhattacharya of CPI (ML) Liberation was not called. According to her, it would not be right to keep anyone out of the fight against the BJP. During the West Bengal polls, Dipankar Bhattacharya advised the CPM that it was not right to join hands with the Congress to oppose the Trinamool Congress. The BJP has to fight the Left as its main political opponent.

Friday’s meeting was virtual and Mamata Banerjee joined it from Kolkata. A draft proposal on what will be discussed at the meeting reached the invited leaders on Thursday. That being said, leaders could read it and sign a consent form. According to sources, Mamata Banerjee did not sign as she thinks that no written proposal should be signed before discussion. She also exchanged messages with Sonia Gandhi on Thursday. She was also told that remarks or additions could be added to the draft proposal. However, Mamata Banerjee said that the talks should be joint.

After that, the TMC leader started raising issues one by one. According to her, “there are a lot of issues in the draft proposal. Instead of trying to come up with something out of the ordinary, we have to move on. These include Covid vaccine for all, the repeal of agricultural laws, the reduction of petrol and diesel prices”. Jago Bangla’s report clearly states that there will be not more than five demands. The TMC has made it clear that the Congress alone will not fix the Opposition’s programme. The Congress’ draft resolution called for the release of those arrested in the Bhima Karegaon case, Article 370, and anti-CAA movement. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren reiterated that Pegasus is not important to the people; instead, oppression of Dalits and Adivasis should be given priority. Tejaswi Yadav told the meeting that the census demand should be brought into September’s programme. It is proposed to form a “core group” of Opposition parties and sit once or twice a month. The question is who will lead the core group? LJD leader Sharad Yadav thinks Congress is the largest party; so it is better for Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi to lead. It is to be seen whether the TMC accepts this proposal of Sharad Yadav. Opposition groups have called for a programme against the central government from 20-30 September.