National

Congress hits out at Mamata Banerjee’s moves

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala. File

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala. File

In an all out attack against Trinamool Congress (TMC) a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ‘there is no UPA ’ comment in Mumbai on Wednesday, the Congress on Thursday pointed out that Ms. Banerjee had once described the BJP as “a natural ally” when the TMC was a part of the BJP-led National Democratic alliance.

Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala recalled that Ms. Banerjee was an ally of the BJP between 1999 and 2001 and again from 2003 to 2006-07 and had two stints as Cabinet Minister in the Vajpayee government.

 

Questioning the TMC’s expansion plans in States like Goa and Uttarakhand, where the Congress is the main challenger to the ruling BJP, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala asked them to introspect “whether the fascist forces are being strengthened by those pretending to be fighting them”.

Mr. Surjewala’s sharp attack came moments after election strategist Prashant Kishor, who is advising Ms. Banerjee since the West Bengal Assembly elections, hit out at the Congress’s top leadership and stated that no one had a “divine right” to a leadership position.

Mr. Surjewala, however, insisted that “as a political party, we would not comment on the views of a consultant, especially if person doesn’t have any ideology and earlier advised Narendra Modi”.

Hitting back at the Congress, Trinamool leader in the Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien asked the Congress to “wake up and smell the coffee”.

Mr. Surjewala told reporters, “Mamata ji has switched over to the BJP and NDA many times, called them her natural ally and fought along with the Congress party many times. For her it can be political expediency, political opportunism, but for us, fighting the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] – BJP line, which spreads hatred and division, is an article of faith. And Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi ji will never compromise on that”.

He added, “You want to fight Modi ji, then Congress is the fulcrum around which that fight has to take place”.

Mr. Surjewala’s comments followed a tweet from Mr. Kishor in which he had taken a direct hit at Mr. Gandhi.

‘DIVINE RIGHT’

Taking to Twitter, Mr. Kishor, associated with poll management company Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) currently working with the Trinamool Congress, said: “The IDEA and SPACE (caps as used in Tweet) that #Congress represents is vital for a strong opposition. But Congress’ leadership is not the DIVINE RIGHT of an individual especially, when the party has lost more than 90% elections in the last 10 years. Let opposition leadership be decided democratically.”

The tweet is being read as an elaboration of the last few weeks of political activity of the TMC in its projects of expansion in the States where it felt the Congress was weak and where it could replace the grand old party, like Tripura, Meghalaya, and Goa.

Congress leaders, however, implied that Mr. Kishor’s statement and Ms. Banerjee’s labours to undermine the Congress under the guidance of the former have more to do with his thwarted attempts to gain a leadership position in the Congress. Party spokesperson Pawan Khera tweeted, “hell hath no fury like a strategist scorned”. He added that the “individual being discussed here [referring to Rahul Gandhi] is pursuing his ‘Divine Duty’ to struggle and save Indian democracy from the RSS. A professional without ideological commitment is free to advice parties/individuals on how to contest elections but he cannot set the agenda of our politics.”

Answering a question on the Congress’s charge that Abhishek Banerjee and the TMC are breaking the Opposition to protect its leadership from cases, Mr. O’Brien said, “Meghalaya MLAs left and joined the TMC, your Goa MLAs ditched you and we all know what happened with the Madhya Pradesh government. I am saying this with all humility, wake up and smell the coffee. The facts are in front of you”.

“UPA was formed from 2004 till 2014 for the government. If there is no UPA, then what are we talking about. We have always spoken about collective leadership. It will have to start afresh,” he added.


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 3:55:04 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kishor-taunts-rahul-on-divine-right-to-lead/article37807307.ece