Thursday, August 18, 2022

TMC drops bombshell; to abstain from VP polls

In a major blow to the opposition, the Trinamool Congress announced Thursday that it will abstain from voting for the vice-presidential election. The party also said it could not go with the NDA’s Jagdeep Dhankhar but could not support the Opposition’s Margaret Alva either, as it had “not been consulted” on her candidature.
TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee also argued that larger Opposition unity required getting together on larger issues.
“We cannot support Jagdeep Dhankhar who, during his tenure as Governor here, undermined Bengal. You have all seen his mentality and his perspective on the state. Ideologically, we cannot vote in favour of him. On the other hand, Opposition parties chose Margaret Alva as the candidate, but the process of choosing her was not right. They decided on her candidature without proper consultation,” Abhishek said.
Referring to the claim by “a senior Opposition leader” that he tried to reach out to Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek said: “But that was after the decision on the candidate was taken. The way the Opposition candidate was decided without consulting a party which has 35 MPs, we have decided to abstain.” According to him, the TMC had proposed a few names and consultation was on. “But they (the other parties) suddenly called a meeting and the venue was also changed to Sharad Pawar’s residence.
He also stated that the TMC is open to discussion on any issue with any Opposition party. “We have been taking the BJP head-on. We have been able to thwart the BJP. If any Opposition party, be it the Congress, AAP, DMK wants to have discussions with us, we are open for it,” added Banerjee.
The Congress and CPM dismissed the TMC’s claims, alleging a “hidden pact” between the party and BJP.
CPM state secretary Md Selim said: “Some prominent TMC leaders’ names were not included when the CBI filed a chargesheet in the coal scam investigation recently. We are paying the price now with the vice-president election.”
Congress state president Adhir Chowdhury said: “The BJP is trying to tarnish the image of the Congress by calling Sonia Gandhi to the Enforcement Directorate office. All Opposition parties opposed it and published statements on that. Only the TMC and AAP did not. The TMC and BJP are now two sides of the same coin.”
Jairam Ramesh, the Congress general secretary in-charge of communication, called the TMC move “unfortunate but not unexpected”. However, other leaders admitted it was a blow to the Opposition camp, optics-wise. “It was a symbolic fight. It is not that it was a close election. But the signal that the Opposition is divided will send a very bad message,” a senior leader said.
Others referred to the meeting Mamata had with Dhankhar and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma in Darjeeling a few days before the BJP picked the West Bengal Governor as its vice-president nominee. “The BJP’s announcement about Dhankhar came three days after he supposedly had a courtesy meeting with her and Sarma. Maybe she did not send any leader to the Opposition meeting because she had made up her mind already,” a senior leader said.


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