Trinamool checks in as Opposition rallies behind Congress in fight against Centre

Trinamool Congress marked its presence at the Congress party’s ‘Black’ protest against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as well as a strategic meet chaired by the Congress president.

Opposition black protest against Centre
Opposition MPs, wearing black over the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha, protest over the Adani Group issue at Parliament House complex. (PTI)

Days after promising to remain equidistant from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress sprung up a surprise on Tuesday as it marked its presence in two back-to-back events led by the grand old party.

Trinamool leaders Prasun Banerjee and Jawahar Sircar attended a strategy meeting of the Opposition chaired by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge at his chambers in Parliament. It later also participated in a Congress-led “black” protest march against Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha.

The TMC, which had so far remained silent on the issues championed by the Congress, spoke up after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in a 2019 defamation case.

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“In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy,” West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted following Gandhi’s disqualification.

The Trinamool Congress and the Congress have been at odds with each other with hostilities witnessed between both sides since the elections to three northeastern states were held. However, matters worsened after the Trinamool lost to the Congress in the Murshidabad by-elections in West Bengal.

In a recent interaction with her party workers, Mamata lashed out at the Congress and referred to Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “biggest TRP” and said the Opposition will find it tough to target Modi if it has Rahul Gandhi as its face. Mamata also alleged that the BJP was blocking the functioning of Parliament as it was keen on “making Rahul Gandhi a hero”. Mamata was referring to the washout of the second leg of the Budget Session over the Centre persisting on its demand that Gandhi issues an apology over his remarks on democracy in India during his recent London visit.

“It is the Congress that bows before the BJP. Congress, CPM and BJP are instigating minorities against the Trinamool,” she said, referring to the party’s loss to Congress in the Mulsim-dominated Murshidabad seat.

The Congress too has been unsparing in its criticism of the Trinamool and alleged a “deal” between Mamata and the Prime Minister to “defame” Rahul Gandhi and Congress.

“Mamata Banerjee is speaking on the directions of the PM. PM and ‘didi’ have a deal to defame the image of Rahul Gandhi and Congress. She wants to save herself from ED-CBI raids that’s why she is against Congress and with this PM will be happy,” Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said responding to Mamata’s remarks.

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While the display of bonhomie between Congress and TMC at the Centre may be seen as a welcome sign for those hoping for a united fight against Modi-led BJP, this unity will face its acid test as West Bengal heads into Panchayat elections in a few months from now. The Congress and the Trinamool have been in the crosshairs over the latter’s understanding that the grand old party was merely causing a division of votes and causing it damage while failing to win any seats.

Meanwhile, Chowdhury recently claimed that around 2,000 workers of the ruling TMC and the BJP have joined Congress in the run-up to the Panchayat elections in the state.

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First published on: 27-03-2023 at 16:12 IST
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