Congress president Rahul Gandhi will meet top party leaders from West Bengal Friday amid a full-blown crisis in the state unit triggered by a threat by some MLAs to switch over to the Trinamool Congress if the party does not enter into an electoral alliance with Mamata Banerjee for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
The Congress in Bengal is vertically split over the question of electoral alliance. A section, which has the backing of state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, is favouring a tie-up with Left parties to fight Banerjee while another is suggesting that the party should enter into an understanding with the Trinamool Congress to counter the BJP.
AICC secretary and Farakka MLA Mainul Haque, who had recently indicated at a public meeting that he may join the Trinamool Congress, told The Indian Express that he will attend the meeting and place his views before the Congress president. Sources close to him suggested that at least three other MLAs — all of them from the Muslim community — may quit the Congress if the party does not honour their wish.
“The decision will be taken after meeting Rahul Gandhi… You will get to know everything after that,” Haque told The Indian Express. Sources said several Congress MLAs from Murshidabad, one of the remaining bastions of the grand old party, could join the Trinamool on July 21.
When contacted, Chowdhury said the Trinamool is using the “carrot and stick policy” to make MLAs leave the Congress. “If those MLAs think that this is the opportune time for switching over, what can I do. It is a serious political and moral degradation. And it is being instigated by the ruling party in West Bengal. She (Banerjee) has been engineering the defection, either through intimidation or by inducements. Those MLAs have succumbed to either inducement or intimidation… She has introduced a pernicious political culture in Bengal,” Chowdhury said.
He said alliance making was in the domain of the high command. “They can suggest whatever other measures they want to strengthen the Congress. But switching over is a betrayal of the party,” he added.
Haque and Maldaha Dakshin MP Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury had met Trinamool Congress secretary general and Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee last week. Choudhury met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi the next day.