Says people from the party are joining TMC as they realise only it can sustain fight against CPI(M)

 “The Congress has lost its relevance in West Bengal and there is a growing realisation among its leaders and workers that the Trinamool Congress is the ‘only platform’ from where the fight against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) can be sustained,” all-India general secretary of Trinamool Congress Mukul Roy said here on Sunday.

 “This is why people from the Congress are joining us,” Mr. Roy told journalists even as he announced that some local leaders of the party, along with their supporters from the Habra area of North 24 Parganas district and Canning East in South 24 Parganas district, had switched their allegiance to the Trinamool Congress on the day.

Erosion in support

There was a steady erosion in the support base of the Congress across the State “and the few who remain in that party, but are anti-CPI(M) in their belief, are joining the Trinamool Congress daily,” he claimed.

 The relevance of the Congress in the State had been in question ever since the Trinamool Congress was formed in 1998, Mr. Roy said, adding that “this has been in evidence in all the elections — whether rural, civic, Assembly or Lok Sabha — since then.”

 This was promptly rubbished by Pradip Bhattacharya, president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, who said that a large number of Trinamool workers from the Gosaba area of South 24 Parganas district had joined the Congress.

 On the differences between the Trinamool government and the State Election Commission (SEC) over the schedule of the upcoming rural polls and the deployment of security forces, Mr. Roy said that in a democratic arrangement there was need for all — whether they be political parties or Constitutional bodies such as the SEC — to stay within their bounds.

 Earlier this month, he had stirred a controversy when he charged the SEC with not holding the panchayat elections in February “only to defer the defeat of the CPI(M).” He had also argued that the prerogative of deciding the dates of the rural polls lay with the State government and the SEC was only a “consultative body.”

Defends stand 

Mr. Roy defended the State government’s stand against the deployment of Central paramilitary forces in the polls, pointing out that all the elections held since the Trinamool came to power were peaceful and smooth.