The Trinamool Congress will contest the elections for Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats on its own steam, and only consider a pan-India alliance with the Congress after results are declared, a furious Mamata Banerjee declared Wednesday.
Banerjee’s words deliver what appears to be a final blow to hopes the two parties – widely seen as important members of the INDIA opposition bloc – will reach any agreement.
“I had no discussions with the Congress. I have always said that in Bengal, we will fight alone. I gave them (the Congress) many proposals… but they rejected them. I am not concerned about what will be done in the (rest of the) country… but we are a secular party and, in Bengal, we alone will defeat BJP.”
Trinamool sources later told news agency PTI the party is open to “courtesy back-channel” talks but there is almost no hope of a deal being struck.
In further signs of fraying tempers, she also hit out at Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, which is expected to enter Bengal on Thursday but might skip Kolkata.
“They are coming to my state… but did not have courtesy to inform me, even though I am part of the INDIA bloc. So there is no relations with me, as far as Bengal is concerned,” she told reporters.
Banerjee has a good rapport with Congress matriarch Sonia Gandhi, but her ties with Gandhi are seen as strained. She has made it clear, earlier too, she is against allowing her ‘ally’ to contest in Bengal.
“INDIA will be present in India (but) in Bengal the Trinamool Congress will fight. In Bengal it is only Trinamool that can teach the BJP a lesson. It can show the country the path to victory…” she said earlier.
Minutes later the Congress responded through comms boss Jairam Ramesh.
Ramesh, who is with Rahul Gandhi and the yatra in Assam, said his party “cannot imagine INDIA bloc without Mamataji”. Ramesh insisted “all INDIA partners will unitedly fight Lok Sabha polls in Bengal”.