Irked Congress to launch all-out attack against Mamata Banerjee after her ‘no UPA’ barb

New Delhi: Congress has now decided to launch an all-out attack on Mamata Banerjee after the West Bengal Chief Minister’s remark that “there is no UPA”. Mamata`s “there is no UPA” remark after a meeting in Mumbai with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, an ally of Congress in Maharashtra, evoked a strong response from the party.

At an event in Mumbai, the West Bengal CM said if all the regional parties come together then defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be very easy. Trinamool Congress was once part of the UPA or United Progressive Alliance, an alliance of several parties including Congress that remained in power at the Centre for 10 years from 2004 to 2014 when the BJP came to power.

In a seeming attempt at pan-national expansion or alliance with “like minded-parties” ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, she has recently visited Delhi and Mumbai where she held a series of meetings with top leaders of various political outfits. Mamata is continuously pitching for a strong alternative at the national level but indirectly taking on Congress, following the TMC`s landslide victory in West Bengal Assembly polls held earlier this year.

During her last visit to Delhi, she didn`t meet Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi. Interestingly, during her Delhi visit in July this year, Mamata had met Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Citing sources in the Congress party, an ANI report said that the decision to attack Mamata Banerjee was taken at a meeting held on Wednesday night. “There were discussions among the top leaders of Congress late night on Wednesday in which it has been decided that the party will now make big attacks against Mamata,” it quoted the sources as saying.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, termed the meeting between Mamata Banerjee and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar as a “pre-meditated conspiracy” to weaken the grand old party and alleged the TMC chief had become “BJP`s oxygen supplier.” Chowdhury was taking the lead in vehemently criticising the TMC chief as he has an old feud with her in West Bengal.

It may be noted that Congress and Left parties fought together in West Bengal Assembly polls against the TMC and the BJP. Till now it has been the Congress` strategy that there should be scope to improve relations in the name of Opposition unity. A section in the party has also been in favour of rapprochement with Mamata for a long time.

Sources told that the responsibility of making political attacks on Mamata has been tasked to top leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Surjewala, adding that the special responsibility to Digvijaya Singh was given because he had been openly advocating coordination with leaders who left Congress like, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Sharad Pawar and K Chandrasekhar Rao from the high command.

Congress received a major jolt in Meghalaya after 12 of its MLAs out of 17 joined Trinamool Congress, making it the state`s main Opposition. One of the prominent figures of the new entrants includes former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma. TMC has witnessed a steady stream of leaders joining its ranks after quitting from Congress in the last few months.

In September, former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro joined TMC after resigning from the primary membership of Congress. Following Faleiro shift, nine other leaders from Congress also joined TMC. Congress MP from Assams Silchar and ex-president of All India Mahila Congress, Sushmita Dev had joined the TMC in August this year. She has been assigned to look after TMCs affairs in Tripura.

Luizinho Faleiro and Sushmita Dev both were awarded Rajya Sabha seats after joining TMC. Congress leader Kirti Azad and former Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar also recently joined TMC. Tanwar was once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.

Mallikarjun Kharge flays Mamata Banerjee
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday said that Congress` aim is to defeat BJP while some people are only helping the ruling party at the Centre.

Kharge told , “Mamata Banerjee is absolutely wrong that the UPA does not exist. It is also wrong to launch personal attacks on Rahul Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee`s allegation that Rahul ji is not visible anywhere is wrong. Congress is raising every issue and is fighting everywhere. Our aim is to defeat BJP but some people are helping that party only. Congress is in power in many states and also in Opposition in some places.”

Kharge further said, “We have tried to include them (TMC) in various socio-political issues where Congress made its name. The opposition should not get divided and fight amongst themselves. We have to fight against BJP together.”

Without Congress, UPA will be body without soul: Kapil Sibal
A day after TMC chief Mamata Banerjee’s “there is no UPA now” jibe, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday said that without the Congress, the UPA will be a body without a soul and asserted that it was time to show opposition unity.

Sibal, who was a Union minister in the UPA government, tweeted, “Without the Congress, UPA will be a body without a soul. Time to show opposition unity.”

Congress general secretary KC Venugopal also reacted to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo`s statement and said that defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) without the Congress is merely a dream.

Venugopal told ANI, “Everybody knows the reality of Indian politics. Thinking that without Congress anybody can defeat BJP is merely a dream.”

“What is UPA? There is no UPA,” said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday after meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar.