Why Mamata Banerjee stayed away from Delhi opposition meet?

Kolkata, Jan 13, 2020 –

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s boycott of Monday’s opposition meet in Delhi betrays her reluctance to accept the leadership of the Congress in fighting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and brings out the deep suspicion state-specific regional outfits harbour towards the grand old party amid fears it could usurp their vote bank given even the minimal political space, say analysts.

However, political pundits also view Banerjee’s decision as a well-calibrated move not to rile the BJP and its twin mascots — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah — beyond a point, with the central agencies continuing their probe into graft allegations in which names of a number of Trinamool Congress (TMC) bighsots have figured from time to time.

For the record, Banerjee announced last week she would not attend the meeting called by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to chalk out a joint strategy on new citizenship law (CAA) and the police brutality against students.

Accusing the Congress and the CPI-M of playing “dirty politics”, having “double standards” and engaging in “hooliganism”, Banerjee said she would continue to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) alone.

However, political analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay believes with the Congress constantly losing its appeal, not only Banerjee, even leaders like BSP chief Mayawati, feel it as pointless to launch a movement under the leadership of the Congress.

“That’s the reason, not only Mamata, but also AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, Mayawati and DMK’s Stalin stayed away. It shows a unity of purpose is emerging among state-specific parties, which are reluctant to accept the Congress leadership, because the 134-year-old party’s presence at the front have often diluted movements in the past.

“Because apart from the states, either ruled by the Congress or where it’s the main challenger to the BJP, the political landscape of the country has changed. In those states the dominant anti-BJP parties will always seek their own space,” he said.

Another political analyst Bimal Shankar Nanda concurs. With Banerjee, Mayawati not attending, and the Shiv Sena, apparently, not getting an invite, the Congress efforts to cobble up an anti-BJP front or create public opinion against the saffron outfit has hit a hurdle, and failed to bring about any consolidation of anti-BJP forces.

“That’s because the Congress movement has its own shortcomings. The regional parties in various states are suspicious and apprehensive of it. They know though their main adversary is the BJP, if they give even a bit of space to the Congress it could occupy the entire political space by edging them out.

“So like Mawayati in UP, Banerjee is not willing to give much political space to the Congress in Bengal. She has an identical attitude to the Left. And Mamata has never really been known to give space to opponents. Rather she always wants anybody to join her party,” Nanda told IANS.

According to him, had the TMC attended the Monday meeting, where the Congress or the Left could have taken some decisions on joint movement, the Trinamool would have had to abide by that. “But for that the TMC will have to give space to the Congress and the Left in Bengal. In such a scenario, the BJP would have gone on the offensive to capture the entire anti-TMC turf. Thus, the TMC opted out releasing this could politically damage it,” said Nanda.

Moreover, throughout her political career, Banerjee has never been comfortable as a constituent of any front. That’s the reason her alliances with the Congress and the BJP came apart. “She wants a front, which she can dictate and lead. At Monday’s meeting, that wouldn’t have been possible,” she said.

On whether she has reasons to fear the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the ponzi scam and Narada sting footage cases where a number of TMC leaders have been arrested and questioned, Nanda said: “That’s there. But it’s also true that if the CBI probe takes a backseat as a result of Banerjee not attending the meeting, then that would create political problems for the BJP.”

But Bandopadhyay feels, issues like ponzi scam and Narada, have taken a backseat in a situation where the moot political question is whether a person is a citizen or not. “I feel, the CBI, the ED, etc, are no more factors. What can the CBI, the ED do afresh?” he asked.

On the other hand, CPI-M politburo member Mohammad Salim said, “The home minister is a factor” for Banerjee’s decision. “You have seen how much she can go for one Rajeev Kumar (IPS under CBI scanner in connection with the ponzi scam cases, and whose questioning led to Banerjee going on dharna for days early last year).

“On top of that she has to take care of the entire TMC family, her family, her nephew (MP Abhishek Banerjee), the ED, the CBI, dozens of MLAs, MPs and Ministers,” he said,

Taking a similar lines, State Congress chief Somen Mitra said, “The only reason she stayed away is to warm up to Modi. She has now been exposed before the people,” he said.  (Agency)

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