KOLKATA: Days before opposition parties are scheduled to meet in Patna, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leaders will be present, to draw a roadmap to fight the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, functionaries of the grand old party from West Bengal met its national president Mallikarjun Kharge and made it clear that they are against any alliance with the Trinamool Congress in the state.
Citing the recent defection of lone Congress MLA Bayron Biswas to the Trinamool, Congress leaders from the state accused Bengal’s ruling party of poaching MLAs from other parties. Kharge, reportedly, assured the Congress leaders that no decision about an alliance with the Trinamool in state politics would be taken without consulting the party’s Bengal chapter.
Congress leaders like Pradip Bhattacharya, a Rajya Sabha MP, former Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan and West Bengal youth Congress president Azhar Mallick met Kharge at his residence in Delhi. “Raising Biswas’ defection to the TMC, the leaders from Bengal became vocal about TMC’s highhandedness and atrocities against the Congress in the state. They told Kharge that an alliance with Bengal’s ruling party in the state will not be accepted at any cost,” said a Congress leader.
Kharge reportedly told the leaders from Bengal that he was aware of TMC’s activities in the state. “He assured that no decision would be taken without discussing the issue with the state leadership,” said the Congress leader.
Biswas was the Congress’s candidate in the Sagardighi Assembly byelection, supported by the Left Front. His victory was a massive jolt to the TMC as the constituency is dominated by the minority community, which is considered the votebank of the TMC across the state.
After the victory, both the Left Front and Congress announced that they would fight against the TMC and the BJP in the state by forming an alliance.
“But Biswas’s defection was a blow to our effort,” admitted a Left Front leader.
West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Nitish Kumar convened the meeting in Patna on June 12 inviting opposition parties including the Congress and the TMC. “At the national level, such meetings may take place. But we will continue our fight against the TMC’s misrule in Bengal and there will be no alliance with Bengal’s ruling party,” he said.
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held meetings with Nitish and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav at Nabanna, the state secretariat, and discussed an alliance against the BJP in the 2024 general elections.