A day after she severed ties with Congress, Kharge reaches out to Mamata

TMC leader Derek O’Brien blames Congress’s West Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for failure of talks in State

January 25, 2024 07:44 pm | Updated January 26, 2024 11:23 am IST - New Delhi

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge during a press conference after the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance’s meeting in New Delhi on December 19, 2023.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge during a press conference after the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance’s meeting in New Delhi on December 19, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge reached out to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee a day after she severed ties with the Congress and declared that the TMC will be contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha polls alone. Earlier in the day, the TMC launched a frontal attack on Congress West Bengal president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury blaming him solely for the breakdown of talks between the two sides.

“Congress President Kharge has spoken with her today and we will find a way forward because her objective is objective of the INDIA bloc which is to defeat the BJP resoundingly in West Bengal and convincingly in other parts of the country,” Congress General Secretary (Communication) Jairam Ramesh said. He hailed Ms. Banerjee as the “co-creator” of the INDIA bloc and said that she played a crucial role in bringing together the opposition parties. Mr. Ramesh appealed to Ms. Banerjee on behalf of his party leadership to join the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra even if it is for “10-15 minutes” saying that her presence will immensely strengthen the spirit of the yatra.

Earlier in the day at a press interaction in Delhi, TMC’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien heaped the blame on Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mr. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for the breakdown in the seat-sharing talks.

““Three reasons for the alliance not working in Bengal — Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury,” he said.

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With the Congress still holding out a candle for the TMC, banking on a possible middle path, Mr. O’ Brien asserted, “we have turned the page.”

“It’s too late”

It is too late for any damage control, the TMC leaders said. Though, Mr. O’ Brien did not name the Congress at any point, keeping his tirade centered on Mr. Chowdhury, he said the INDIA bloc had many detractors but only two had spoken against it repeatedly — the BJP and Mr. Chowdhury. “The voice is his but the words are of BJP duo,” Mr. O’ Brien added. In the past two years, he accused Mr. Chowdhury of speaking the language of the BJP. “Not once did he raise the question of West Bengal being denied Central funds. He endorsed the Enforcement Directorate’s action in Bengal against our leaders. There is barely any squeak from him against any BJP leader. While Ms. Banerjee has been the primary target of all his speeches,” Mr. O’ Brien maintained.

Mr. O’ Brien underlined that the TMC has for the last 180 days since June 23 when the bloc was first formed followed the grammar of coalition politics. “It was decided in all our meetings that whichever is the strongest party in the State will lead the talks. We waited and waited for the Congress, but we had to take a call,” he said.

There are indications that the divorce between the two is not final. “If the Congress does its job on the 300 seats it is fighting and defeats the BJP, then we will be standing by the front that believes in pluralism of India,” he added.

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