Not many are happy with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s charge that the Congress won’t win more than 40 seats, and that Rahul Gandhi is a seasonal player. (Image: ANI/File)
Is TMC boss Mamata Banerjee attacking the Congress-Left to ensure that they, and not the BJP, benefit? For Congress, silence helps as it can contest many seats in West Bengal. Analysts feel Left vote share has gone up, which could work for INDIA bloc
The restraint, and some would say, the meek response to TMC boss Mamata Banerjee’s relentless attacks, some personal, on the Congress is making many wonder why the grand old party is not hitting back?
Till senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra was in West Bengal, it made sense as it was clear that the party did not want trouble with the TMC with hopes that it will join them.
This is also the reason why when Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called TMC leader Derek O’Brien, he was asked to apologise. He was also asked to go slow on his attacks as much as possible while the yatra was in its Bengal leg.
The party, however, has baffled many in its cadre as to why and how long it will gulp down its pride. Not many are happy with Mamata’s charge that the Congress will not win more than 40 seats, and that Rahul Gandhi is a seasonal player. This has upset the cadre, but there could be a plan.
There is no denying that this is a do-or-die battle for the opposition, even more so for the Congress. If the BJP returns to power, it is quite possible that the Congress stares at more exodus and near-extinction. This is why no one would want to upset the apple cart.
Here’s an explanation. Just before the INDIA bloc was formally constituted, the plan and chatter was that “every CM can be PM”. And the plan was that every constituent party will look at performing its best on their turf. In Bengal, this is where this theory is put to test the most.
If the Congress-Left-TMC contest together, it could mean that anti-Mamata votes will go to the BJP. But, with three warring parties, it means that the anti-Mamata vote may go to the Left or the Congress alliance – this helps the TMC as well as the alliance, and not so much the BJP.
The BJP will most likely hold onto its strongholds like north Bengal and pockets like Srirampur in Hooghly district. So, is Mamata attacking the Congress-Left to ensure that they, and not the BJP, benefits? Because for Mamata, the bigger danger is the BJP as it has clearly emerged as the number 2 party in the state.
For the Congress, this silence helps as it will now want to fight on its own on a number of seats in Bengal, as many of its strategists feel that the Left vote share has gone up and this could work for the alliance.
But, while this could be a plausible strategy, it hurts the INDIA bloc as a whole. And, now with the yatra likely to enter UP at the end of February, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s comment that he has not been invited has sent shudders down the opposition’s spine.
It certainly does not want a repeat of the Bengal scene, where Mamata, too, had accused the Congress of not inviting her party for the yatra. The Congress has often been accused of being a spoilsport and unlucky for any coalition attempts. It now wants to look gracious, be a sport, and yet hope to take advantage of the attacks it is facing from some of its potential allies. Is the Congress being penny wise, pound foolish?