Kolkata: The TMC’s failure in the Goa and Tripura elections, with problems at home after the Birbhum massacre, seems to have forced the ruling party in West Bengal to reconsider its national expansion strategy and reach out to Congress for a pan. -India-BJP alliance. The TMC, which had earlier campaigned aggressively against the Congress, called the old party “war-weary”, “disabled and incapacitated” and “deep-frozen” and sought to keep it out of any possible formation against the BJP. , Its position seems to have softened after the recent election whitewash outside West Bengal.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has recently written a letter to all opposition parties, including the Congress, urging them to unite and fight against the saffron power. The electoral defeats in Goa and Tripura, which shattered the TMC’s strategy to present itself as the “real Congress”, have been cited as one of the main reasons for the change, party insiders said. Banerjee said in February that he had “nothing personal” against Congress and that he was not in favor of fighting it. But, he further complained that the Grand Old Party does not have good relations with the regional parties, which is one of the reasons that could come in the way of uniting the opposition against the BJP. “Our party leadership sincerely believes that without opposition unity on the nation, the Modi government cannot be defeated,” said TMC chief spokesperson Sukhendu Shekhar Roy. Another senior TMC leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the party had been in touch with Congress for some time but had not received any response.
“We wanted to form an alliance with the Congress in the Goa assembly elections but they did not agree,” he said. He said the TMC’s strategy to present itself as the “real Congress” after the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections had failed as other opposition parties still considered the Grand Old Party to be the most credible anti-Pan-India force.
“The TMC initially deployed its entire equipment to attack the Congress but after the defeat of the Goa vote, realized that no national anti-BJP alliance would be possible without the Grand Old Party,” he said. Mamata Banerjee had approached Congress President Sonia Gandhi for an alliance in Goa but it was not implemented.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the alliance did not happen because the TMC “went to Goa to help the BJP by sharing the votes polled against the Saffron Party”. He claimed that the TMC was “scared” by the political turmoil caused by the Birbhum massacre and was trying to draw public attention to the opposition’s unity.
“Sometimes they attack the Congress, and sometimes they want to align with us. The TMC lacks credibility as an anti-BJP force,” he said. The TMC’s high-decibel Goa campaign failed because it failed to win any seats and received only 5.2 per cent of the vote. It was allied with the Maharashtrian Gomantak Party. In Tripura civic elections, TMC has won only one ward in a municipality.
Professor Maidul Islam, a political analyst at the Center for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata, said the TMC’s attack on the Congress was normal because both Tripura and Goa were contesting the elections. “There can be no non-BJP alternative without the Congress. For the TMC, it would be beneficial to ally with the old party. The BJP used the split of the opposition in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
Another political analyst, Sumon Bhattacharya, a columnist and former journalist, said the issue of reach was happening on both sides. “There is talk of i-Pak, which conducted the TMC’s 2021 West Bengal Assembly election campaign, planning to work for the Congress in Gujarat. It could open a bridge for the Banerjee party with the Grand Old Party,” he added.
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