ENGAGED IN a verbal duel with BJP leaders on Basirhat riots and relations with the Centre steadily plummeting since the demonetisation last year, Trinamool Congress has decided to skip the all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to drop in during the lunch meeting in New Delhi.
While Trinamool has claimed that it cannot attend the meeting as it was busy preparing for Martyrs’ Day rally on July 21, sources in the party said that at a time when BJP leaders, including senior ministers, were engaging in “hate-mongering”, it would prefer to stay away from such events. The party, however, will send Lok Sabha MP Kalyan Banerjee to represent it in a dinner that night, which is being hosted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Also, Trinamool has decided to raise the issue of BJP ministers and leaders “spreading communal tension” in Tuesday’s meeting, where 17 Opposition parties will meet to discuss their vice-presidential candidate, said party Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien. “No Trinamool leader from Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha will be able to attend the lunch meeting called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar. Everybody is busy preparing for July 21. However, we will send somebody for the Speaker’s dinner. We will also raise the issue of central ministers fanning communal hatred and farmers’ suicides in the Opposition meeting tomorrow. In last 40 days, Madhya Pradesh had seen the largest number of suicides,” he added.
The Opposition decision for vice-president’s post is scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, O’Brien said, adding that it could be a “quasi-political” person who is acceptable across all parties. Among the other issues that Trinamool will flag in that meeting, O’Brien said are the fallout of demonetisation “that is becoming clear only now” and how GST had been “rushed into”.
The party will also raise the issue of central agencies being used against parties opposing the BJP, he added. On ED raids at places associated with RJD chief Lalu Prasad, O’Brien said: “We are in touch with both Laluji and Tejaswi and have assured them that we are with them. They are not alone in this because others too will soon be targetted.”