Mukul Roy had said West Bengal results showed his party is strong enough to rule the State alone

The Congress national leadership will not allow itself to be provoked by the party's fractious friends in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) — as yet: that is the indication senior functionaries gave after a triumphant Trinamool Congress general secretary — and Railway Minister Mukul Roy — said the West Bengal civic election results demonstrated that his party is strong enough to rule the State alone. Of the six municipalities that went to the polls, the Trinamool won four, while the Congress and the CPI(M) picked up one each.

“There are no Assembly or Parliament elections in the immediate future,” Congress functionary in charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed stressed, responding to Mr. Roy's remarks. What about the panchayat polls scheduled for next year? “We have taken no decision yet,” Mr Ahmed said.

Mr. Roy's provocative remarks came a day after the Pradesh Congress leaders vigorously criticised the Trinamool at a meeting of the extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) here. PCC chief Pradip Bhattacharya, CWC sources said, had hit out at the Trinamool State unit for constantly demanding Central financial assistance while chalking up a poor record of utilising funds sent for Central schemes. He also told CWC members that the Congress simply did not count in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's scheme of things, even though it was part of the government. Mr. Bhattacharya was critical of her for “behaving like an Opposition leader” at the Centre despite her party being a key constituent of the Congress-led UPA government. He was joined in his criticism by the State Congress Legislature Party leader Mohammed Sohrab, who pointed out that Ms. Banerjee was not allowing the Congress to function either in the State or at the Centre.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bhattacharya, responding to Mr. Roy's statement, said: “If they [TMC] have decided to fight alone, let them fight alone. God bless them. We have not said we will fight alone.” However, Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury said his party's convincing victory at Cooper's Camp proved the Congress could also fight alone.

The Congress' national leadership is biding its time. Right now, the Trinamool's 19 MPs continue to be valuable for it, but the Congress' growing cosiness with Mulayam Singh's 21 MP-strong Samajwadi Party is evidence that it has a backup plan.

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