Whether the Congress’s poll performance will boost the Opposition’s efforts to put up a united front ahead of the 2019 elections remains to be seen, but the response of at least one of its potential allies has been markedly muted. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who has been one of the prime movers behind efforts to cobble together a united front against the BJP, appeared reluctant to give any space to the Congress in her reactions.
Throughout the day, while Banerjee targetted “enemy” BJP, she made no mention of the Congress. Talking of the “financial emergency” in the country and the alleged targetting of institutions such as the CBI and RBI, she called the results a “vote against BJP”. When asked if the Congress’s was a “big victory”, the West Bengal Chief Minister sounded dismissive. “Congress fought in these states; we did not. So they won. We obviously gave them our full support,” she said.
A series of three tweets earlier in the day too made no mention of the Congress. “Semifinal proves that BJP is nowhere in all the states. This is a real democratic indication of 2019 final match. Ultimately, people are always the ‘man of the match’ of democracy. My congrats to the winners. Victory of democracy and victory against injustice, atrocities, destruction of institutions, misuse of agencies, no work for poor people, farmers, youth, Dalits, SC, ST, OBC, minorities and general caste. People voted against BJP,” Banerjee said.
Banerjee’s equation with Congress president Rahul Gandhi has never been quite at the same level as the one she shares with former party chief Sonia Gandhi. She has been reluctant to engage with Rahul, not even congratulating him when he took over the reins of the party last year. She has also sidestepped all suggestions of the Congress being the core of a proposed federal front, responding that the party’s performance in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh would decide its standing.