Updated: November 28, 2021 9:13:47 am
In the first signs of strain in ties with the Congress, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which is trying to gain a national footprint, indicated Saturday that it was not keen on coordinating its moves in Parliament with the Congress.
The TMC is unlikely to attend a meeting of Opposition floor leaders called by Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, on Monday.
Although not comfortable with the TMC’s expansion drive that has seen it poaching its leaders — from Assam to Goa, Meghalaya to Bihar — the Congress decided to not let the unease come in the way of Opposition unity in Parliament to take on the BJP government.
But sources in the TMC said the Congress, which is battling splits and internal dissensions in many states, is not in a position to lead and coordinate Opposition efforts in Parliament.
They said the ties of the Congress with its electoral allies like the DMK, RJD, Left parties, JMM and even the Shiv Sena, with whom it shares power in Maharashtra, should be viewed differently from its ties with the TMC, against whom it fought Assembly elections just months ago.
“The Congress is in a mess. In Meghalaya, it has split, in Goa all but four of its MLAs remain, there were high profile dissensions in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh… a party which is in such a situation… what are they going to discuss with us… what are they going to coordinate,” a senior TMC leader said.
Asked about Opposition unity, another TMC leader said “where was Opposition unity when they fought against us with the Left just 5-6 months ago… we were fighting our biggest battle against the BJP, where were they”.
The Congress declined any immediate comment on the TMC call to skip the meeting called by Kharge.
Reached for comment, Derek O’Brien, leader of TMC in Rajya Sabha, said: “The issues in this session are self-selective. Be it repeal of the three farm laws, promulgation of ordinances to ensure that directors of the ED and CBI could have longer tenures, making a mockery of federalism, extending the jurisdiction of the BSF, fresh revelations in the Pegasus snooping row, price rise… everybody is on the same page as far as these issues go.”
Another TMC leader recalled that the Congress had stayed away when Mamata Banerjee led a march along with leaders of the Shiv Sena, AAP and the National Conference to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in November 2016 against the Centre’s demonetisation move. “Where was the Congress then? Where was Opposition unity?” the leader said.
On Friday, the Congress asserted that it was the central pillar of the Opposition and had always discharged its responsibility as the main Opposition party.
Addressing a press conference, Anand Sharma, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, said: “We have long experience, both in governance and now for the last seven years and more in Opposition. We have a constitutional duty, which we recognise, we are conscious of that as the main Opposition party of this country; there are expectations of the people that we will take up issues which concern our citizens.”
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