First it was Randeep Singh Surjewala, spokesperson of Congress; and then Rahul Gandhi himself. Both asked the same question: If Congress leaders are not being allowed to go to Lakhimpur Kheri, how was it that TMC and the Bhim Army were allowed there.
It is not a usual question that a party’s top leader asks about another fraternal party. And it definitely signified something that is not friendly at all. Take the cue from Adhir Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha and a top Congress leader of the state: “Fighting it out and reaching a trouble spot is different from managing things,” says Chowdhury. His message is clear: TMC managed the UP administration run by Yogi Adityanath of the BJP.
The TMC was quick to respond. Its official spokesperson Kunal Ghosh tweeted, “Rahul Gandhi should not try to confuse people by distorting facts. TMC will not accept any loose non-political comment from any part-time politician who has failed to combat the BJP. We respect the INC. We are in favour of non-BJP unity. We are on the road, not on Twitter only.” He also commented that Rahul Gandhi has woken up after 72 hours of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Accusing Rahul Gandhi of being a ‘part-time politician’ who has ‘woken up after 72 hours’ is not friendly at all. Earlier Adhir Chowdhuri has stated that that the TMC is trying to break opposition unity at the behest of the BJP, and this has started after the central agencies became active against Abhishek Banerjee.
It is noteworthy that the TMC is trying to strengthen it and spread tentacles outside Bengal, mainly at the cost of the Congress. Changing sides by Congressmen in Tripura was not very significant. But the same by Sushmita Dev, a Rajya Sabha MP and a popular face among the Bengalis to whom her father Santosh Dev was a dear leader, has hurt the Congress in Assam. More so in Goa, where Luiziho Faleiro, a seven-time Congress MLA and formerly two-time Goa Chief Minister, have been persuaded to join the TMC.
And in its mouthpiece, the TMC has claimed that it would replace Congress at the national level as the main force against the BJP. So long, it was Adhir Chowdhury who was spearheading the counterattack. But now, it seems, the whole Congress is gearing up against Mamata Banerjee’s adventurism.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)