The Opposition INDIA alliance is falling apart in West Bengal, where the Left parties have been opposing the TMC for a long time. This is because Mamata Banerjee, the TMC chief and the state’s Chief Minister, has announced that her party will go solo in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, leaving the Congress behind.
The relationship between the TMC and the state Congress unit has been sour and bitter for years, especially between Mamata and the state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who are also the CM and the Leader of the Lok Sabha respectively. They have been hostile to each other for decades.
Mamata, who is 69 years old and has been the CM three times, left the Congress and formed the TMC on January 1, 1998. Adhir, who is 67 years old and has been an MP from Berhampore since 1999, stayed with the Congress and never joined the TMC. A senior Congress leader, who knew both of them well, said, “They were always at loggerheads and never got along.”
Mamata led the TMC to a historic win in the 2011 Assembly elections with the support of the Congress, ending the 34-year rule of the Left. But in December 2012, the alliance broke down when a Congress minister in Mamata’s Cabinet, Manoj Chakraborty, who was close to Adhir and belonged to his district Murshidabad, resigned. Adhir backed him up.
Since then, Adhir has been a vocal critic of Mamata in Bengal. He played a key role in forming an alliance with the Left for the 2016 Assembly elections. A top TMC leader said, “We have told the Congress leadership many times that we cannot be allies in Bengal as long as Adhir is the state president. Mamata likes Congress leaders like Pradip Bhattacharya or Abdul Mannan who are more moderate towards the TMC.”
Mamata recently told her workers from Murshidabad that the TMC was ready to fight all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. She also challenged them to defeat Adhir in his constituency Berhampore, according to TMC sources.
Adhir, on the other hand, dared Mamata to contest in Berhampore. He said, “Mamata Banerjee can use force to win seats but not people’s hearts. People are with us in Murshidabad.” He also called Mamata an “opportunist” and said that the Congress would fight the Lok Sabha polls without her help. “We don’t need Mamata’s help to fight the elections. Congress can fight on its own strength, and Mamata Banerjee should remember that she came to power in Bengal with the help of Congress,” he said.
Mamata had earlier offered the Congress only two of its current seats – Berhampore and Malda Dakshin – for the Lok Sabha polls. Adhir rejected the offer, saying that the Congress won these seats on its own in 2019 against the TMC and the BJP, and that it did not need any “grace or generosity” from Mamata to win them again.