CHIEF MINISTER and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee Friday allegedly asked party members to go slow on the Congress and not to criticise it. The comments came days after Mamata held a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to discuss Presidential elections.
“She asked party members to maintain silence on Congress as it has no presence in Bengal. She said that she will handle Congress and directed us to focus on the BJP and CPM and criticise them,” said a senior Trinamool leader, who was present at the meeting, on condition of anonymity.
Mamata said this at a core committee meeting of the party attended by all Trinamool MPs and MLAs, chairman of all municipalities and presidents of zilla parishads. With Mamata going soft on the Congress, speculations are rife that both parties may come together to forge an Opposition unity against the BJP. Reacting to Mamata’s comments, state Congress President Adhir Chowdhury said, “She is a mercurial leader. What she says about us is not important to me. I have to abide by what my party says. My party asked me to strengthen the organisation in Bengal through membership drives. We do not need help from her to run our party. We will run the organisation by our own strength.”
Chowdhury had recently wrote a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, urging her to keep the condition of Bengal Congress in mind before discussing anything with the Trinamool. Besides, the Congress had contested the 2016 Assembly elections in the state with an “understanding” with the Left Front. If Trinamool Congress and Congress come together, it will be a huge setback for the state unit of Congress and dent their understanding with the Left.
During the meeting, Mamata also asked party leaders and workers to be prepared for any situation and get ready for Panchayat elections slated to be held next year. According to a senior Trinamool leader, Mamata was of the view that the Centre was planning to hold Lok Sabha and Assembly polls simultaneously at the end of 2018.
“Our party supremo has asked us to be prepared for any situation. She told us not to be complacent and directed us to increase the mass connect. Our aim will be to fight against the BJP and strengthen our social media presence to counter the BJP’s malicious campaign against our party in social media,” the leader said.
He added, “We have been asked to organise mass meetings in every block of the state and reach out to the people as part of our Panchayat election preparations.”
After the meeting, Mamata met Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Abdul Mannan at the Assembly and enquired about his health. The Chief Minister also congratulated Congress MLA, Pratima Rajak, on her impending marriage and gifted her Rs 2,000.