In the last 10 days, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has approached a number of senior Left leaders to join it, but all of them rebuffed the offers. According to the Left leaders, the TMC offered them money and ministries.
The proposals were reportedly made to 12 Left leaders, according to sources, through political strategist Prashant Kishor and his team, who are advising the ruling party in the run-up to next year’s Assembly elections. The attempts were part of the ruling party’s efforts to burnish its image, which has taken a beating because of the Covid-19 pandemic and allegations of corruption in relief work undertaken after Cyclone Amphan in May.
“They basically gave us hints first, then we approached them. Not that we contacted them first,” said Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee.
However, many leaders of the ruling party believe that the strategy failed and did more harm than good as the Leftist leaders who were approached made it public.
A senior TMC leader said, “We are the ruling party. If Opposition leaders come to us to join the party, it has meaning. But to include them in the party this way, and them denying the offers has basically has done more harm. It seems that we have already lost the battle.”
The first Left leader to be approached was the CPI(M)’s Debesh Das, who is a former minister. But, he rejected the offer, and told the media, “Money cannot buy ideals.”
Next, the TMC approached some current and former MLAs in North Bengal. One of them was popular Forward Bloc leader Ali Imran Ramz alias Victor, who said, “I received a proposal from the TMC. They told me if I join I can choose from three ministerial berths, but I refused.”
Former Dhupguri MLA and veteran CPI(M) leader Lakshmikanta Roy said he refused the proposal and told the ruling party’s representatives, “All Communists cannot be purchased.”
A veteran CPI(M) leader said, “At least 12 leaders got this type of offer from the TMC but all of them refused. It is true that many of our leaders have joined the TMC in the past. But, those who are honest and committed to the ideology they will not join. The TMC and their election managers should know that.”
CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “This is corporatisation of politics. But, Leftists usually join politics not for money but some ideology. The TMC leaders could not understand that because they have no ideology.”
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