Saradha, poll equations bring Mamata Banerjee closer to Congress

Last session, the Trinamool Congress was largely alone when its MPs protested against CBI action in the Saradha chit fund scam.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Published: December 10, 2015 1:38 am
saradha scam, tmc congress, tmc west bengal, polls west bengal, kolkata news, west bengal news, mamata banerjee, india news Mamata Banerjee with Arvind Kejriwal, whom she showed around Parliament’s Central Hall Wednesday. (Source: Praveen Khanna)

Whether it is because of the dangling Saradha sword or for fear of a possible Congress-Left tie-up in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress has stood out from the rest of the Opposition in the way it has rallied behind the Congress.

On Wednesday, Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien said in the Rajya Sabha that when there is a political vendetta happening across the country, the matter needs to be raised. Lok Sabha MPs, for their part, walked out in protest against alleged political vendetta. On Tuesday, most Trinamool Lok Sabha had stood up in solidarity with agitating Congress MPs, while party chief Mamata Banerjee had unambiguously supported Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s reluctance to appear in court in the National Herald case. On Wednesday, Mamata met Sonia to wish her on her birthday, though she said later that there were no political discussions.

Last session, the Trinamool Congress was largely alone when its MPs protested against CBI action in the Saradha chit fund scam. With three Trinamool MPs and a former West Bengal minister in jail, it makes political sense now for the party to join forces with the Congress. What would have been topmost in Trinamool strategists’ minds, however, is the assembly elections.

Over the past few weeks there has been talk about a possible tie-up between the Congress and the Left in the state. Mamata told journalists Tuesday, “In my state they (Congress) are with the Left, in some places they are also with the BJP.” A Left-Congress tie-up would bode ill for the Trinamool.

In the Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool had a vote share of 39%, the CPM 23%, the BJP 17% and Congress 10%. Trinamool insiders no longer see the BJP as an effective vote-splitter, hence their wariness about a Congress-Left consolidation. “Had the BJP done well in Bihar, it could have got a large vote share in Bengal. Now, the anti-incumbency vote will go to the Left and our job will might just get a little bit difficult if the Congress is thrown into that mix,” a Trinamool insider said.

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