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Mamata’s flip-flop on INDIA bloc in line with her history of shifting political stands

Kolkata, May 17, 2024
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s contradictory statements about the Opposition INDIA bloc are consistent with her history of shifting political stands.

On February 2 while interacting with media persons she said that the Congress will pay heavily throughout the country in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls and expressed doubt whether the grand old party would be able to win 40 seats also.

She had also said that the Congress does not have the strength to take on the BJP in the saffron-ruled states in North India.

Now, with just three phases of the Lok Sabha polls remaining, the Chief Minister has taken a 180 degree turn and is saying that the INDIA bloc will finish the tally with 315 seats, while the BJP will bag a maximum of 195.

Poll statisticians are wondering how the INDIA bloc will bag 315 seats if the Congress, which is a major partner in the alliance, remains limited to 40 constituencies.

The confusion is compounded by the fact that though she is making such rich predictions about the INDIA bloc, she has remained silent on the Trinamool Congress’ possible seat-count in West Bengal.

Her recent statement that she will provide outside support to the probable INDIA bloc government at the Centre is yet another contraction of her earlier claims of Trinamool Congress leading the alliance after the polls.

However, her predictions give rise to the question that if the INDIA bloc ends up with a tally of 315 seats, how relevant will the Trinamool Congress’ support be to the alliance then?

While the BJP’s West Bengal leadership has chosen to ignore such contradictory statements by the Chief Minister, the Congress and CPI(M) leaders have started attacking her on this issue.

Congress President in West Bengal and five-time party Lok Sabha MP, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said such contradictory statements are examples of the Chief Minister’s constantly shifting political stand.

“I do not trust her. She broke away from the INDIA bloc. Now she is trying to unite with us again after understanding that we are becoming stronger nationally,” he said.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has claimed that after total non-cooperation with the INDIA bloc for the last few months, such contradictory statements in their favour are meaningless to them.

Political observers, however, say that such U-turns are nothing new since the formation of Trinamool Congress by Mamata Banerjee in 1998 by breaking away from the Congress.

In the beginning the Trinamool Congress had an alliance with the BJP and she even became the Union minister of Railways in the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led Government.

However, she resigned from the Cabinet following the Tehelka sting-operation on Defence bribery just before the 2001 West Bengal Assembly elections and allied with the Congress to take on the mighty CPI(M)-led Left Front.

After the Left Front came back to power with a huge majority in 2001, she again broke her ties with the Congress, reunited with the BJP and again became a minister in the Union Cabinet.

Thereafter, in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls Trinamool Congress became a single-MP party with only Mamata Banerjee winning from the Kolkata-Dakshin constituency.

She started distancing herself from the BJP after that and before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls she partnered with the Congress, taking advantage of Left Parties withdrawing support to the Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA-I Government.

After spectacular results in 2009 in West Bengal in alliance with the Congress, she continued with that political friendship with the country’s oldest national party till the 2011 West Bengal Assembly polls, which marked the end of the 34-year Left Front regime and the beginning of the Mamata Banerjee-led government’s rule.

However, her relations with the Congress started to sour as the latter started complaining about constant poaching in its camp by the ruling party.

The Congress and Trinamool Congress again parted ways before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.(Agency)

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