Two days after the Congress registered a massive victory in the Karnataka Assembly polls, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on May 14 said her party was willing to support the Congress provided the grand old party offered to ‘sacrifice’ its aspirations in the State and support the Trinamool Congress.
The remarks by the Trinamool chairperson assume significance as so far she had maintained silence on the role of the Congress and emphasised on the “unity and strength” of regional parties to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“Wherever the Congress is strong in their respective 200 seats what we have calculated, let them fight, we will support them. But they have to support other political parties as well. If I support you in Karnataka but you fight against me in Bengal that should not be the policy. If you want to achieve something good, then you have to sacrifice in certain areas,” Ms. Banerjee told a press conference here.
Elaborating on the “1:1 formula” for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls , the Trinamool chairperson said that in places where the regional parties were strong and in a politically dominant position the Congress should make a ‘sacrifice’.
“Whoever is strong in some places and regions, they should fight together [not against each other]. Suppose Bengal, so we should fight Bengal, Suppose Delhi so AAP [Aam Aadmi Party] should fight Delhi. In Bihar, Nitish Ji [Kumar] and Tejashwi ji [Yadav] and the Congress also should decide their formula,” she added.
The Chief Minister maintained that the verdict in Karnataka is against the BJP government and wherever the regional parties are strong the BJP cannot do anything. A few weeks ago Ms. Banerjee met leaders from regional parties such as Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H. D Kumaraswamy. Before the results of the Karnataka Assembly polls, Ms. Banerjee was silent on the support of the Congress to take on the BJP. On May 13, when the results of the Karnataka polls were announced, Ms. Banerjee congratulated people of the southern State without making any reference to the Congress.
Reacting to the remarks of the Trinamool chairperson, State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Ms. Banerjee never urged people of Karnataka to support the Congress and now she was trying to jump on the Congress’s bandwagon.
“She is trying to jump on the Congress’s bandwagon after the party victory in Karnataka. Congress is a big party and Trinamool is a regional party. Trinamool chairperson suffers from frog in the well syndrome,” Mr. Chowdhury told The Hindu.
The Congress has two Lok Sabha members from West Bengal and recently the Congress candidate supported by the Left parties defeated the Trinamool nominee in the Sagardighi bypoll in Murshidabad district.
The Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha and Berhampur MP also referred to the Sagardighi bypoll results. “The Congress party is very capable of defeating the Trinamool Congress in Bengal. We have done this in the past and we will do it again in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” Mr. Chowdhury said. The Congress leader has been claiming that supporters of the Trinamool were joining the Congress in Murshidabad over the past few weeks since the Congress victory at Sagardighi. Congress leaders in the State said the Karnataka results were another shot in the arm for the party.