West Bengal

Mamata Nandigram episode again exposes Congress’s fault lines

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari. File   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari on Thursday took a dig at party’s Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for his comment that the alleged attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram on Wednesday was a “political gimmick”.

“This is political nicety. @Citiznmukherjee [Pranab Mukherjee] would have been proud of his illustrious son,” tweeted Mr. Tewari, tagging a tweet of Abhijit Mukherjee, son of the former President, who wished Ms. Banerjee speedy recovery and demanded swift action against the alleged attackers.

Mr. Tewari’s tweet once again exposed the fault lines of the Congress, as the group of 23 dissenters (G-23), including Mr. Tewari, senior leader Anand Sharma and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, rallied behind Ms. Banerjee instead of backing Mr. Chowdhury, who had questioned the authenticity of the attack claim.

On Wednesday, Mr. Chowdhury, who is also the Congress chief in Bengal, claimed that Ms. Banerjee was talking about an attack to gather sympathy after assessing the ground situation in Nandigram, where she is taking on BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, a close aide-turned-rebel.

‘A political gimmick’

“This is a political gimmick. Who would believe that the State’s Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister, would not be protected by the police. They had formed a security ring around her in Nandigram,” Mr. Chowdhury told The Hindu earlier.

Earlier too, Mr. Sharma had attacked Mr. Chowdhury on the Congress’s alliance with the Abbas Siddiqui-led India Secular Front. Hitting back, the West Bengal Congress chief had said some leaders were only bothered about “personal comfort spots and making remarks that were in tune with BJP’s agenda”.

Asked to comment on the contradiction, party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the Bengal Congress chief may have “specific information” but asserted that there was no place for violence in politics.

Beyond the war of words, the episode also reflects the G-23’s approach towards splinter groups of the Congress. In their letter to party president Sonia Gandhi last August, it had explicitly mentioned about bringing erstwhile Congress leaders -- be it Sharad Pawar (NCP), Ms. Banerjee or Jagan Mohan Reddy (YSR Congress) -- on one common platform to take on the BJP.

In the context of Bengal as well, they would have preferred the Trinamool Congress over the Left parties.

A senior Bengal leader, however, strongly argued against such a move and pointed out that in the past 10 years, the Trinamool had weakened the Congress by poaching some of their top leaders, including former State Congress chief Manas Bhuiyan. “Our fight is to stop the BJP and become relevant by emerging as a force. Who knows Trinamool may need our help later,” added the leader.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 7:01:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/west-bengal-assembly/mamata-nandigram-episode-again-exposes-congresss-fault-lines/article34045404.ece

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