AICC gen secretary Shakeel Ahmad: ‘As part of tacit understanding, Mamata Banerjee calls PM Modi danga babu’

Man behind the 2011 TMC-Cong alliance, speaks to The Indian Express.

Written by Arshad Ali | Kolkata | Published: April 25, 2016 4:01:05 am
west bengal, elections, west bengal assembly polls 2016, danga babu, modi, shakeel ahmad, mamata banerjee, congress, narendra modi, trinamool congress, indian express Mamata Banerjee. (Express Photo)

Do you regret pushing for a Congress tie-up with the Trinamool in 2011 state polls?

To some extent because at that time, we thought that it will be a change for better. But unfortunately, it was not the case. Our focus was strengthening democracy… but Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has destroyed the basic structure of democracy in Bengal. Again, we forged an alliance with her to stop the growth of communal forces in Bengal. That too did not happen. When we came together in 2011, BJP got 4 per cent votes in Bengal. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it bagged 18 per cent votes. We are sure that there is a tacit understanding between Trinamool and BJP. Just to misguide the people, Mamata calls Narendra Modi ‘danga babu’… But in New Delhi, her party openly supports the Modi government in each and every Bill. This tacit understanding is more evident because the Centre is going slow on Saradha scam investigation. It’s a quid pro quo.

Do you, even a little, doubt the tie-up with Left?

No, not really because we were in an alliance with Left from 2004 to 2008. There was no ‘khich-khich’ except for the Indo-US nuclear deal which they openly defied… Just like as is the case with different parties, we were not on the same page on all issues. Differences are natural to crop up among parties but as long as you are with us, you must be an honest ally, which she (Mamata) was not. We were forced to remove Dinesh Trivedi three days after he placed the Rail Budget in Parliament because Mamata had otherwise threatened to withdraw support from the government.

What is your call on the seat sharing arrangement with Left this time?

It is for the state Congress president to decide. Five years is a long time. If they are happy, I have nothing to say.

Congress never came up with a green signal until recently…

Congress is an all-India party. If the state unit suggests something, generally AICC would agree to it, unless it is completely against the party’s basic principle. It might give some suggestions… but it doesn’t rule out the state unit completely.

Hasn’t this alliance come a little late?

Some people say so. But I will again say which we forged an alliance based on inputs by the state party president, the general secretary in charge and the party as a whole. They all discussed the matter and when they came to a conclusion, it was known to all.