A “patient” and “sympathetic” Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president, on Monday became a sight for sore eyes for leaders of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee as he put to rest any possibility of an alliance with the Trinamool Congress. “The alliance chapter is closed,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by state party leader Abdul Mannan. The two parties had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections together to rout the Left Front.
In a meeting with senior WBPCC leaders, Gandhi “patiently” heard his leaders discussing, for the most part, “the sacrifices the Congress party has made in Bengal that have, of course, left other parties benefited.”
“The state Congress leaders impressed upon Rahul Gandhi that the party has sacrificed its own interests which, of course, has given good dividends to some parties in West Bengal at the cost of the Congress. The leaders told him that this has to stop,” said WBPCC president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who had on Friday, also “told (Congress president Sonia Gandhi) point blank that if, at this juncture, an alliance was made with the TMC, the Congress in Bengal will just wither away,” an assessment that went deep into consideration before Sonia closed the meeting at her residence with the announcement that he party would “go solo” in the state.
Chowdhury was backed by other leaders who agreed with him that “the Congress should not compromise in the state anymore.” Party leader Manas Bhuniya said that under the leadership of (Rahul) Gandhi, the instructions at the Monday’s meeting were “more specific” and “had a lot of clarity”.
It is this clarity that brought several leaders, who had previously refrained from discussing their Lok Sabha prospects, into asserting that they are ready to fight the polls if the AICC wants them to.
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“We have been asked to fight as a team and if the AICC leadership wants, I will definitely contest the election,” said party leader Pradeep Bhattacharya.
Mannan, who had recently injured his leg in an accident, said he had proposed the name of Amitabha Chakraborty as a candidate in his place. “(But) Rahul had been extremely sympathetic to me, and if he decides now that I will have to fight the election, I shall definitely do so. I had never gone against the party’s decision.”
Chowdhury, too, confirmed that there have been “instructions to senior state leaders to contest the election.”
As the only member of the Congress’s Central Campaign Committee from the state, Bhuniya explained how the party’s slogan would be to ‘Save India’ as against BJP’s ‘Fight For India’.
“We would want India to be saved from communal forces and violence and save India for RTI, Right to Food, Right to Education and Right to Health,” Bhuniya said.