Kolkata: To dispel all doubts about what Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress thinks of a possible Opposition alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party, and of the role of the Congress in that alliance, the party mouthpiece, Jago Bangla, published an editorial on Saturday, sternly warning the Congress against forgetting the importance of the regional party. In the editorial written in Bengali, the TMC newspaper said that the Congress should not forget that it was the Bengal-based party which defeated the BJP on its own, at a time when the Congress tied up with the Left but together scored a zero.
The editorial says that some speculation is going on about the TMC staying away from anti-BJP programmes in Delhi, but the TMC is clear that for the sake of the country it is in favour of an alliance of non-BJP, democratic and secular parties. It is for the purpose of stitching such an alliance that Mamata Banerjee had gone to Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi, where Rahul Gandhi was also present.
The editorial says that the TMC wants an anti-BJP alliance, which will have a clear agenda and will have a proper procedure of functioning; suddenly asking parties to join a rally will not work with the TMC. “Don’t forget that we have defeated the BJP…without needing any allies,” says the editorial. In contrast, the Congress and Left fought together, but “got a zero”. The editorial goes on to add that “For the sake of the country we want an alliance”, but no one in that alliance should forget the fight that the TMC has fought and won, on its own.
The editorial then says that the TMC is not thinking about the leadership of the alliance, but about how to end the BJP’s anti-people policies. It adds that if the Congress had been able to provide an alternative, the BJP would not have won so many seats nationally and form government, so lessons need to be learnt from the past. The TMC mouthpiece then says that their party is not talking of an alliance minus the Congress, or of a third force. Instead, there has to be one clear Opposition alliance as an alternative, however it must be found out why the Congress has failed and what needs to be done to fill the gaps that will be there in any possible alliance. The editorial then reiterates the point about the “zero” that “others” got when fighting the BJP in Bengal and then asserts that “we know how to defeat the BJP’s all India force; and just as we, the All India Trinamool Congress, want an Opposition alliance, we also know the formula to build that alliance.” So nothing should be read in its absence from Opposition programmes.
In this context, TMC state secretary Kunal Ghosh said, “Times have changed from the way it was in the past. We have to get out of the old model of thinking and form a real Opposition alliance. We have to come out of the model that has failed in the past. The TMC knows how to defeat the BJP’s top leadership. Our leader has met Sonia Gandhi. The MPs have worked together inside and outside Parliament.”
A few days ago, all the Opposition parties, including the Congress, staged a protest outside Parliament against the Central government. The parties were led by Rahul Gandhi. From Shiv Sena to DMK, everyone participated in the protest, but TMC MPs were not seen there.
Earlier, the Opposition had protested at Jantar Mantar demanding the repeal of the farm laws. TMC leaders were missing from there as well, giving rise to speculation about its role in any possible alliance. According to sources in TMC, the party is not willing to give Rahul Gandhi “undue importance”, especially when it is Mamata Banerjee who has proved that the BJP can be defeated.
Mamata Banerjee’s relationship with Rahul Gandhi has never been smooth, unlike her relationship with Sonia Gandhi. The TMC leader will attend the 20 August Opposition meeting called by Sonia Gandhi.