‘Ekla cholo re’, says Mamata on CAA, NRC; leaves opposition a divided house

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Published: January 9, 2020 11:02:14 PM

West Bengal was rocked by incidents of violence and arson during the strike called by trade unions linked to the Left and the Congress on Wednesday. Those supporting the strike clashed with police and vandalised public property.

Ekla cholo re, Mamata Banerjee, CAA, NRC, TMC, West Bengal Assembly, West Bengal NewsThe Congress said Banerjee was invited to the opposition meeting and it was up to her to attend it.

“If needed, I will fight alone,” a livid Mamata Banerjee declared in the West Bengal Assembly on Thursday and said she will boycott a meeting called by Congress’s interim president Sonia Gandhi on January 13 over campus violence and the CAA, exposing the opposition faultlines on the issues. Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal and also the Trinamool Congress (TMC) president, was angry over the incidents of violence in her state during a trade union strike called by organisations affiliated to the Left and the Congress over the Centre’s “anti-people” policies, including economic measures and livewire issues such as the new citizenship law and a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC), on Wednesday.

“I have decided to boycott the meeting convened by Sonia Gandhi on January 13 in New Delhi as I do not support the violence that the Left and the Congress unleashed in West Bengal yesterday (Wednesday),” she announced on the floor of the Assembly when the opposition insisted that the House pass a resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The Congress, however, said Banerjee was invited to the opposition meeting and it was up to her to attend it. “I am not aware of any decision of Mamata Banerjee. As far as I know, the Congress party has raised its voice against the CAA and NRC inside and outside Parliament and opposition leaders have been invited for the meeting on January 13. Whether she will come or not, I cannot say it now,” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi, when asked about the TMC chief’s decision.

Banerjee said since the West Bengal Assembly had already adopted a resolution against a pan-India NRC in September last year, which denounced according Indian citizenship to minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the basis of religion, there was no need for a fresh resolution. As opposition MLAs insisted on a fresh resolution, the tempestuous leader launched into a harangue, defending her stance and declaring that she will not attend the meeting called by Gandhi.

“You people follow one policy in West Bengal and a totally contradictory policy in Delhi. I do not want to be on the same page with you. If needed, I will fight alone,” she said, as she mounted an onslaught on the Congress and Left members.

West Bengal was rocked by incidents of violence and arson during the strike called by trade unions linked to the Left and the Congress on Wednesday. Those supporting the strike clashed with police and vandalised public property.

Banerjee had said though she empathised with the strikers and supported their cause, she was against a shutdown as it inconvenienced the common people and adversely affected economic development.

The meeting called by Gandhi is being seen as an attempt to bring together all opposition parties against the Modi government, which is facing unmitigated fire from the opposition over the Sunday night violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. The opposition has blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student front of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for the violence.

Banerjee asserted that the TMC will continue with its protest against the CAA and the NRC, but not brook any shutdown over these issues in her state, calling it part of “dirty politics” by the Left and the Congress. A temperamental Banerjee also sought the “forgiveness” of opposition leaders who will attend the meeting called by Gandhi, saying “it was I who had mooted the idea”. “But, after what happened yesterday in my state, it will not be possible for me to attend the meeting,” she added. Banerjee also dialled Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to inform him about her decision, TMC sources said.

The Left and the Congress in West Bengal were quick to pounce on Banerjee for her decision to give the meeting a miss, alleging that it was aimed at “pleasing the BJP leadership”. “She is trying to please the BJP leaders. She herself is adopting double-standards. She wants to keep the saffron party leadership in good humour, which is why she is not attending the opposition meeting,” Congress’s Abdul Mannan, who is also the leader of the opposition in the state Assembly, said.

CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim accused Banerjee of attempting to scuttle the opposition’s efforts to come together on a common platform over “burning issues”. “It is clear who is in favour of the RSS. Her acts of protests are just a show-off,” he said.

State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh sneered at the opposition over its discomfiture following Banerjee’s decision to boycott Gandhi’s meeting. “These parties cannot stay united for long as they do politics only for the sake of power,” he said.

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