By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Kolkata, Jun 4 (IANS): The recent incident of the lone Congress legislator in West Bengal Bayron Biswas joining the Trinamool Congress has once again raised several questions about the seriousness of the West Bengal ruling party of being a part of an anti-BJP alliance for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Not even three months have passed since Biswas got elected as a Left Front-supported Congress candidate in the bypolls for the minority-dominated Sagardighi assembly constituency in Murshidabad district that he chose to shift to the ruling party.
Till recently, only the state Congress unit, especially its president and veteran Lok Sabha member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, had been vocal against the Trinamool Congress on this issue though he did not get backing from his party's central leadership.
However, after Biswas's defection to the Trinamool Congress even the Congress central leadership has started speaking on this issue. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh issued a strongly worded Twitter message condemning the Trinamool Congress leadership for poaching from other parties.
"Three months after he was elected as a Congress MLA in a historic victory Bayron Biswas has been lured away by the TMC in West Bengal. This is a complete betrayal of the mandate of the people of the Sagardighi Assembly constituency. Such poaching which has happened earlier in Goa, Meghalaya, Tripura and other states is not designed to strengthen Opposition unity and only serves the BJP's objectives," Ramesh said in the Twitter message.
Within hours, chief minister Mamata Banerjee countered claiming that that Congress is unnecessarily making an issue out of the Trinamool Congress's decision to contest the assembly polls in states like Tripura, Goa and Meghalaya. She also claimed that it is not the right approach that only the BJP and the Congress will continue as national parties of the country.
However, political observers are of the opinion that the possibility of the Bayron episode being raised and vitiating the atmosphere at the Patna meeting of the anti-BJP parties to finalise the strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is most unlikely. According to political observer RN Sinha, just as Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is leading the anti-Trinamool lobby in the Congress, similarly there is a counter-lobby in that party which is in favour of going soft on Mamata Banerjee.
"I agree that the second lobby's arguments of going soft on Mamata Banerjee received a jolt after the Trinamool Congress abstained from voting in the elections for the Vice-President of India last year. But it does not mean that this second lobby has become totally inactive in their efforts to maintain an amicable relationship with the Trinamool Congress. So much will depend on who will be representing the Congress at the June 12 meeting in Patna. If the representative is a pro-Trinamool Congress lobby leader then it is guaranteed that the Bayron episode will not be even mildly touched at the Patna meeting," Sinha added.
He said that even if the Congress representative is from the anti-Trinamool lobby, in that case also there is hardly any chance of the issue being raised at the meeting. "At the maximum, the Congress representative might make an attempt to speak to Mamata Banerjee on the sidelines of the meeting and then raise that issue," he added.
However, another political analyst Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay feels that whatever might be the outcome of the June 12 meeting in Patna it will have no relevance in West Bengal.
"Simple arithmetic says that any seat-sharing arrangement between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress will never work out for the next Lok Sabha polls. In case of a bargain with the Trinamool Congress, the Congress will get a maximum of two seats to contest, which are the existing two with Congress MPs, one in Murshidabad district and the other in Malda. On the contrary, in case of a bargain with the Left Front, the Congress will manage a minimum of seven seats, if not more. So, the Left Front is the natural choice for an alliance for the Congress in West Bengal," he added.
He stated that considering the seniority and dedication of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in the party, even the top Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will not decide anything that might upset Chowdhury. "Moreover, keeping in mind Rahul Gandhi's personal equations with the CPI(M) leadership especially the party's general secretary Sitaram Yechury, at least I do not see any reason for the Congress and the Trinamool Congress going together in West Bengal," he added.