Just one day before the opposition INDIA bloc got together in Mumbai, according to sources, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had an early morning meeting. Neither side has officially accepted that this meeting actually took place, but analysts say such an event has huge ramifications for West Bengal politics.
Sources say on the agenda may have been the role of INDIA in 2024 as well as equations between the Congress and TMC at the national and state levels.
While the two parties have been old allies, fought elections together, and were also part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, their relationship has soured in the past 2-3 years. The Congress accused the TMC of poaching some key leaders like Sushmita Dev and Mukul Sangma.
Even with the INDIA bloc coming together, there have been questions on whether the Congress and TMC would be able to work unitedly. In such a scenario, observers say the reported meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Abhishek Banerjee would carry immense weight.
TMC members feel that since they are in the leading party of West Bengal, whatever may have been discussed at such a meeting would be good for Trinamool.
However, many Congress leaders in Bengal seem unhappy with the news of such a meeting. Kaustav Bagchi, the party’s spokesperson from the state who had earlier too voiced his dissent, again wrote on Facebook that any understanding with the TMC cannot happen.
“Mamata Banerjee now needs the Congress. That’s why all these meetings. But the Congress should understand that we the local workers will not support this in any way,” he said.
While TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee has long shared a good rapport with former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the same couldn’t be said about her equations with Rahul. But, in recent days, the two seem to have patched things up.
Experts also say there may have been discussions between the two parties about electoral adjustments outside West Bengal as well since the TMC is looking to expand its presence.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) though has been constantly taking potshots at the newfound bonhomie between the Congress and TMC. BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul said, “I wonder how the families of the Congress workers who were killed by TMC-linked people in the recent panchayat elections would be feeling now. What will happen? This is my question, Adhirda (state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury).”