The Left Front and the Congress on Thursday organised a joint rally at Suri in Birbhum district and both said it was the first such gathering ahead of panchayat elections.
CPM state secretary Md Salim and the Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, addressed the rally.
“We do not want our alliance to be a poll-time affair anymore. It has to be seriously coordinated, designed and executed. This is why joint programs such as this rally are very important,” a state Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
CPM politburo member Ram Chandra Dome, Congress leader Milton Rashid, Forward Bloc state general secretary Naren Chatterjee also attended the meeting that was held at the grounds of Benimadhab School in Suri.
Both the Left and the CPM have been trying to jointly take on the Trinamul Congress since the 2016 Assembly polls. However, the BJP replaced them as the main Opposition in the state in 2021. Neither of the parties had any representation in the current Assembly until recently when the Congress’s Bayron Biswas won the Sagardighi bypoll with the support of the Left.
Observers have said some of the reasons for the alliance’s failure to make a difference are the confusion and mistrust among the workers of both the political camps at the grassroots. Traditionally, Congress workers rather aligned themselves with Trinamul rather than voting for parties like the CPM. However Left cadres have voted en bloc for the Congress candidate.
Salim and Chowdhury are trying to clear this air of suspicion.
Speaking at the rally, Chowdhury appeared to be trying to convince the workers of his party to join hands with the Left. “We had opposed the Left once and supported Trinamul. But now, it is time to support the Left parties to remove Trinamul from power. There is no deception in this.”
Sources in the Congress said the Sagardighi results made an impact on the coalition. Cadres of both the Left Front and the Congress had worked together and managed to pull off a win for themselves. Leaders of both the political camps now desire to promote the “Sagardighi model” across the state ahead of the polls.
Chowdhury also said chief minister Mamata Banerjee was trying to reignite the NRC debate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls to scare the minority community. He hinted that the fear of the NRC would help Mamata consolidate Muslim votes in her favour.
“Nowhere in the country will the NRC be executed. But in Bengal, it will be brought ahead of the 2024 polls. Because Bengal has (a high population) of Muslims.... This is the plan of Modi and Didi (Mamata).... The people of Bengal need to understand that the defeat of the Left-Congress alliance in 2021 has left the Assembly devoid of anyone who can speak for them,” he said, adding that Mamata and Modi were competing with each other to prove who is a bigger Hindu.
Addressing the gathering and explaining why the first show of joint strength by the two parties was organised in Birbhum, Salim said: “Birbhum is the epicentre of all illegal activities of Trinamul.”
Sources in the CPM said since Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamul’s national general secretary and the nephew of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was currently touring Birbhum for a flagship event of his party, the district became an immediate choice as the venue.
Trinamul’s district president Anubrata Mandal and his daughter Sukanya Mandal are currently in judicial custody in Delhi’s Tihar jail. They were arrested for their alleged involvement in cattle smuggling.