CBI vs Mamata: Congress not too enthusiastic in support

CBI vs Mamata: Congress not too enthusiastic in support

PTI file photo.

The CBI action in Kolkata has brought the Opposition parties together but Congress appears to be not going overboard over its support to Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee even as Naveen Patnaik-led BJD sprang a "pleasant surprise" and K Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS kept a studied silence.

The Odisha-based BJD has cautioned against reading too much into its attack on the CBI's "enthusiasm" under Narendra Modi government in chit-fund scam cases citing that it could well be the next target and wanted to pre-empt it while TRS, an anti-Congress, anti-BJP Federal Front proponent, did not join any protest despite being approached.

While a host of Opposition parties raised voice in unison against the CBI action in West Bengal where its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is sitting on a "satyagraha" against the CBI "excesses", Left parties also did not join the bandwagon and instead the CPI(M) issued a terse statement against Trinamool Congress and BJP, its political adversaries.

Congress has also not shown much enthusiasm though it has supported the Trinamool Congress protest with its chief Rahul Gandhi calling Banerjee over phone. For the Congress, it has to weigh in its West Bengal unit's stand against the ruling Trinamool Congress.

At a meeting of Opposition parties in the evening ahead of their meeting with the Election Commission on EVMs, sources said the Trinamool Congress wanted to discuss the issue but the Congress refused to take up the issue after CPI(M) leader T K Rangarajan objected to it. Earlier in the day, Gandhi had a "chance meeting" with CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.

When senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien raised the issue, sources said Rangarajan said that this was not the issue on which his party has agreed to come for the meeting. He reminded the meeting that CPI(M) Polit Bureau has issued a statement on the issue and if they wanted to discuss this, he has to consult his party.

On this, sources said, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said he will also have to consult the Congress president. Then the leaders decided to confine the meeting to the EVMs.

However, it was decided that the Opposition will not leave the issue that easily and the floor leaders in Parliament would formalise a strategy on Tuesday morning. On Monday evening after the meeting with EC, leaders like N Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal, O'Brien and others met at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence where Congress leaders were absent.

Pawar and others, however, downplayed the Congress absence saying it was an unscheduled meeting and that they all would sit together in the next two days to finalise a strategy.

For Congress, sources said it also did not want to be seen as “forgetting the victims” of chit-fund scams. The BJP had dug out a tweet by Gandhi where he had sympathised with the victims.

While on Sunday night, Trinamool Congress reached out to Opposition parties, several of them immediately supported the cause. Sources said when it approached TRS, its top leaders said "nothing" while the BJD did not give any commitment.

However, Patnaik on Monday morning asked its Parliamentary party leader Bhartruhari Mahtab to speak against CBI and in Lok Sabha, the latter launched a scathing attack, saying India is "not a banana republic.

BJD sources said it has to take a stand and some of its leaders are falsely implicated in chit-fund scams. However, sources said it was not fair to "group BJD with some political parties" because of the stand on CBI is "incorrect and misleading."

"If we don’t take a stand, we will be in trouble. The next target will be us. They will start targeting us in one week's time," a senior BJD leader told DH.

When contacted, BJD chief whip Tathagata Satpathy told DH, “our stand is clear. The party's floor leader (Mahtab) has spoken about the issue on how it is improper. The way the CBI is being used is reprehensible.”