In 2014-15, Mamata Banerjee used to say she had no 'untouchables' in the fight against BJP. But were those aimed to test the waters? But now, she has crossed that stage and is doing everything to present Congress in a very poor light.
New Delhi: The bitterness between Congress and its offshoot, the Trinamool Congress, could be growing manifold in days and weeks to come.
"The TMC has been saying this for a long time that the Congress is a spent force. They don't have the zeal ….," says an article in Trinamool Congress's mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla' in an article titled 'Congress in deep freezer'.
The remarks came a day after Congress labelled an 'opportunistic' charge against Ms Banerjee, who said there is no longer any UPA during her recent visit to Mumbai.
The Congress-led UPA was floated in 2004 after the general elections, and some parties like the LJP (then led by Ram Vilas Paswan) had parted ways in 2014 and joined the NDA of BJP.
Mamata Banerjee herself served as Railway Minister under Manmohan Singh as a leader of the UPA constituent party and earlier as a Minister under P V Narasimha Rao. Her rise in politics started in 1984 when she defeated CPI-M heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee in an election seen as a poll of sympathy wave for the Congress aftermath assassination of Indira Gandhi. But the intense wrangling continues unabated now. The Congress has already called her opportunistic.
The Mamata Banerjee-led outfit now claims the party supremo has been mandated to be the face of the opposition for the 2024 elections.
"We have the mandate. Important opposition parties want Mamata Banerjee," a party source said.
Trinamool leaders Mamata can be the face of "an alternative" politics. The party insider says while the Congress grievance against TMC is understood, Mamata Banerjee should not be blamed for desertion by Congress leaders.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor has said earlier that the issue of 'opposition leadership' ought to be decided "democratically". In what is seen as more than just a veiled attack on Rahul Gandhi, Kishor has tweeted: "… Congress' leadership is not the DIVINE RIGHT of an individual especially, when the party has lost more than 90 per cent elections in last 10 years."
Prashant Kishor's tweet and Mamata's tongue-in-cheek remark express 'no confidence' in Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul – that the Congress is no longer even fit to get a role to anchor the opposition unity.
While Congress has faced the rebellion of a group of eminent leaders, including Kapil Sibal, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Shashi Tharoor, Ms Banerjee has given a call to all 'regional parties' to come together. Importantly she made the remarks in the presence of NCP founder Sharad Pawar.
However, there is scepticism among other regional players. Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav, if not marginalised incoming UP polls, would be one player to keep watch. At least three other regional parties YSR Congress Party of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, TRS of K Chandrashekhar of Telangana and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu may not be very comfortable going with Mamata Banerjee.
One has not heard the final words from DMK and Shiv Sena either. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has been an admirer of Mamata, but he too has tactfully avoided making any noise at this juncture.
The CPI-M has meanwhile said: "……outside Parliament, the efforts of Mamata Banerjee and the TMC to exercise leadership of a united opposition is not going to fructify, just as the desire of the Congress to play that leading role came to naught." The CPI-M's mouthpiece People's Democracy, said in its edit.