Kolkata: The Congress and Left parties need to come together in a political front or on a common platform in West Bengal to effectively fight the “murder of democracy” by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the “communal agenda” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), says a senior Congress party leader.
“The joint entity should be broad-based and necessarily involve and include all the non-TMC and non-BJP political parties, political organisations, trade unions, civil society organisations and prominent citizens from various walks of life,” said state Congress General Secretary Om Prakash Mishra.
Railing against an “unholy and undercover understanding” between the Trinamool and the BJP-RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) combine, he said Bengal now faced a unique situation.
“Though RSS-BJP has been traditionally weak in Bengal… of late we can see some kind of ‘rise’ of the saffron brigade. The goal of retaining political power and shielding its leadership from investigation, detention and conviction in corruption cases by the CBI over chit-fund scams and Narada sting makes the Trinamool compromise with the political interests of the BJP in the state,” said Mishra, a Jadavpur University professor.
Coming down heavily on the Trinamool, he said its “brutal and repressive measures” in “connivance” with police and administration against the opposition in the state was designed “to weaken Congress and Left parties and to indirectly encourage the BJP to fill the political space forcibly vacated”.
“The systematic and forcible nature of defections of elected MLAs/local bodies’ functionaries throughout the state and unprecedented violence resorted to against opposition political parties… has served to increase communal polarisation that suits both TMC as well as BJP.”
Strongly opposing any tie-up between the Congress and the Trinamool, he said while the Congress and Left parties have not compromised on the question of secularism, “Trinamool has a history of cohabitation with BJP for about 10 years”.
He also discounted any Left-Congress-Trinamool tie-up in the state to pit the BJP in a one-to-one fight in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, arguing that such a formation might amount to ceding opposition space to the BJP.
Mishra told IANS he was canvassing for the coming together of the Congress and the Left with the approval of the state Congress leadership.
“In April, we had a Pradesh Congress Committee meeting where this issue was deliberated upon. State Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked for suggestions. The meeting unanimously authorised me to initiate discussions with Left parties and prepare a roadmap.”
Mishra has already come up with a detailed note on the subject.
When it was pointed out that former Union minister and sitting Congress MP Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury has already met the Trinamool leadership seeking an anti-BJP “mahajot” (grand alliance” in the state, Mishra said: “He went in his personal capacity, not on behalf of the party. The state Congress chief has already made this clear.”
Asked about the failure of the Congress-Left alliance in the 2016 assembly polls, Mishra said: “Last time we got 39 per cent of the votes. The BJP’s vote share got reduced as the Left-Congress came together.
“But yes, we did not make progress to the extent we would have liked. That’s because it was stitched at the last moment, there were misgivings and reservations, we had no Chief Ministerial candidate, there was no joint mechanism of campaign, we faced an acute resource crunch,” he said.
However, he regretted that the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s decision not to continue the electoral understanding after the Assembly polls. “That weakened the momentum the ‘Jote’ had achieved during March-April 2016.”
Mishra predicted that there would be a drop in the BJP’s vote share if the Left-Congress joined hands. “The BJP will be affected in a negative way. On the other hand, the combine would draw a lot of minority votes. Minorities trust both the Left and the Congress.”