Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Vadra have been on a full-blown campaign in Kerala, Assam.
New Delhi: Even as the first phase of polling came to a close on Saturday in West Bengal, Congress’ seniormost leaders—Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra—have been absent from campaigning in the state, while the duo has been on a full-blown campaign in other election-bound states like that of Kerala and Assam.
Sources in the Congress say that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have been “deliberately” kept out of campaigning in Bengal due to an “alliance compulsion” which the Congress is facing in this election.
While the Congress is fighting a bitter battle against the Left Front government in Kerala, the same Congress is in an alliance with the Left Front in Bengal and this is what has led to senior leaders of the Congress giving Bengal a miss, said Congress sources.
“Rahulji and Priyankaji have not yet gone to Bengal to campaign because the Bengal unit has stitched an alliance with the Left there, and the Congress is fighting the Left in Kerala. How will the party explain this dichotomy to the people and therefore it is best that the senior leaders avoid Bengal. And why avoid Bengal? This is because Bengal has no chance of the Congress government coming to power, while, on the other hand, it has very high chances of overthrowing the Left-led UDF government in Kerala. This is why the senior leaders are devoting much more time in Kerala than anywhere else,” a senior Congress leader told The Sunday Guardian.
Rahul Gandhi has been seen canvassing for the party extensively in Kerala where he has attacked the Left Front Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan multiple times. On the other hand, the Congress high command also shares a cordial relation with TMC chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, which is why the party does not want to directly attack Mamata Banerjee in the election campaign.
Sources in the Congress also said that Rahul Gandhi was averse to the alliance between the Congress and the Left, but the final nod was given for this alliance in the state with the Left due to the “different nature of politics” in Bengal.
The Bengal unit of the Congress also wanted Rahul Gandhi to attend the Brigade Parade ground rally called by the Left party for the “Grand alliance’s” show of strength in Bengal earlier this month, but the Gandhis gave it a miss as they did not want to be seen sharing the dais with Left front leaders.
The Congress in Bengal is in an alliance with the Left and the newly created ISF (Indian Secular Front) which is led by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui of Furfura Sharif. The Congress in Bengal is fighting 90 odd seats in the 294-member Assembly, while the rest are being contested by their alliance partners. The Gandhis have not only been campaigning in Kerala, but also in Assam, which is also going to polls, along with Bengal and Kerala. Congress senior leader Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Varda have been travelling and campaigning extensively in these states. The Congress is hoping to overthrow the BJP-led Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to the West Bengal unit of the BJP for a comment on the story. But despite calls and text messages to state PCC President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and senior Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya for a comment on the story, the calls and texts went unanswered till the time of going to the press.