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Bengal Congress against tie-up

Gogoi was apprised of the majority view when a two-day extended executive meeting of the Congress began in Calcutta on Tuesday

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 13.11.18, 07:55 PM
Gaurav Gogoi

Gaurav Gogoi Telegraph file picture

The Congress’s Bengal minder, Gaurav Gogoi, was told by most leaders in the state that they were against a tie-up with Trinamul for the coming Lok Sabha polls, said sources.

Gogoi was apprised of the majority view when a two-day extended executive meeting of the Congress began in Calcutta on Tuesday.

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The sources said some leaders had also voiced opposition against an alliance with the Left Front as it was virtually a depleted force in Bengal.

“Many Congress leaders now want the party to contest alone in Bengal, thereby salvaging some dignity and improving credibility for the long term. They are against alliances even if it means zero victory in a state with 42 Lok Sabha seats,” a source said on Tuesday.

The executive meeting, being attended by Gogoi, has 1,046 participants. The objective of the meeting is to find ways for fund collection, booth-level mass outreach, political programmes and organisational development for the beleaguered state unit.

“Leader after leader, including some like (Malda North MP) Mausam Noor who had previously pitched for an alliance with Trinamul, stated their case against a tie-up with Mamata Banerjee and her party at the meeting,” said a source.

“Some also said an alliance with the Left made little sense given its sorry state in Bengal. Most seem to agree on the need for the Congress to fight alone in Bengal,” he added.

According to the sources, Gogoi told the meeting that the AICC would not thrust a decision on the state unit in disregard of what the Bengal leadership wanted.

“However, the fact remains that the decision will finally be taken by the high-command and the state unit’s views would of little consequence,” said a leader.

In 2014, the Congress had won four seats in Bengal – out of 44 in the entire country. Trinamul bagged 34 seats, while the Left and the BJP won two each. However, all the four seats of the Congress came from its erstwhile bastions of Malda and Murshidabad, where the party has been drastically weakened since 2016 with a slew of defections engineered by Trinamul.

In keeping with the stand of equidistance from the BJP and Trinamul, the Congress decided to organise a rally on Rani Rashmoni Avenue here on December 12 against the “anti-people” policies of the central and the state governments.

In the evening, a delegation led by state Congress president Somen Mitra visited governor Keshari Nath Tripathi to demand justice for Samirul Islam, a Congress worker who had been murdered by alleged Trinamul supporters in North Dinajpur’s Chopra. The Congress plans to hold a protest rally in North Dinajpur on Saturday and meet Tripathi with the victim’s family during his north Bengal visit on Sunday.

At a news conference in the afternoon, Mitra accused Trinamul of being silent on key issues such as the alleged graft in the Rafale deal and the turmoil in the CBI.

“Are they really serious about fighting the BJP? They should clarify this,” said Mitra.

Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said his party did not need certificates from others. “The people of Bengal and the whole country know that we are the foremost in any fight against the BJP,” said Chatterjee.

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