IN A fix over Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi holding a joint press conference on demonetisation in New Delhi, the Congress on Thursday said there was “no need to read much” into it. “There is nothing much to read into it. Many political parties have come together on the issue of demonetisation. And on this issue, both the TMC and the Congress are on the same page,” Congress general secretary and national spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said.
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Ahmad, who had served as the party’s observer during the 2011 West Bengal Assembly polls, said: “We are running a government in Bihar as a coalition partner of the JD(U), but Nitish Kumar had earlier supported demonetisation. So, does it mean that our alliance doesn’t exist? The same logic applies to Bengal in regard to the relationship between the Congress and Trinamool.” On being asked to speak on the Narada and Saradha scandals, Ahmad declined to comment and said he would rather focus on demonetisation. Ahmad said his party is yet to decide on holding a joint protest with Trinamool on the issue.
He also refused to say why the Congress was willing to align with the TMC on note ban and black money, when the party’s Bengal unit has accused TMC of being involved in the Narada and Saradha scams. “Our fight is against the personal corruption of Narendra Modi. There are several chief ministers in India who have corruption cases and allegations against them. We are not here to talk about them,” Ahmad said. Incidentally, at the press conference, Ahmad was seated beside Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan, whose PIL in the SC had led to a CBI investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam.
Ahmad’s comments came only two days after Mamata, along with Rahul and leaders of other regional parties, sought to put up a united face against demonetisation by demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The latest thaw in the ties comes as the Congress and the Left Front had struck up an alliance for this year’s West Bengal Assembly election, which Mamata had termed as “unethical and immoral”. On Wednesday, Mamata had also extended her warm wishes and greetings to the members of the Congress on the party’s 132nd foundation day.
A BJP leader summed up the situation for Congress: “The Bengal Congress has in the past repeatedly attacked Mamata Banerjee over her corruption scandals. Now they’re joining hands? What will the Bengal Congress say now?”