CBI vs Mamata: Chinks in Opposition ranks

CBI vs Mamata: Chinks in Opposition ranks

The row over CBI has once again brought the Opposition together but it appears there is simmering tension within the grouping over how much it should go, prompting a section of the non-Congress parties to hold a meeting at NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence.

Soon after the joint Opposition meeting with the Election Commission on Monday, leaders like N Chandrababu Naidu of TDP, Arvind Kejriwal of AAP, Farooq Abdullah of National Conference and Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien drove to NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence where they were also joined by Muslim League's P K Kunjalikutty and RSP's N K Premachandran. Parties like the RJD, BSP and Samajwadi Party were not part of this meeting.

Sources said some of these parties felt that Congress and the Left were "not that enthusiastic" about supporting Trinamool Congress' fight against the CBI and that they needed to build the pressure. At the meeting, it was decided that they should convene a meeting again soon to take up the issue, as they were upset.

A senior leader who participated in the meeting at Pawar's residence said he attended it with the impression that all parties, including Congress, would be there to brief the media about their interaction with the Election Commission over their demand on tallying 50% of the VVPATs with EVM count in the Lok Sabha elections. The briefing on the meeting with Election Commissioners was done outside the Election Commission office.

The leaders also had a meeting before they drove to the Election Commission at senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's office in Parliament where a section of the leaders, including Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien, wanted to discuss the West Bengal-CBI row.

At one point, Pawar suggested that all Opposition Chief Ministers should hold a dharna in the national capital in solidarity with Banerjee but it was not received enthusiastically by Congress and CPI(M). But this did not find much traction in the meeting.

CPI(M)'s T K Rangarajan made it clear that his party could not be part of such an initiative and he came with an understanding that the meeting was about EVMs. Azad also said it was a meeting of the floor leaders and not of party presidents, who are to take call on such issues.

Sources said these developments had prompted a section of the parties to hold a separate meeting at Pawar's residence. For the Congress, its state unit's opposition to Trinamool Congress as well as “taking it too far” was not an option. They also wanted to wait for the Supreme Court's decision on Tuesday morning before escalating the issue while it also did not want to be seen as going against the victims of the scam,

Moreover, the Bengal unit of the Congress also is organising a rally on Wednesday seeking justice for the victims of the chit-fund scams.

The CPI(M), which is in direct contest with Trinamool Congress, was straight in attacking both the BJP and Mamata Banerjee-led party and its General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said "far from being isolated", they stood "vindicated" after the Supreme Court directed Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar to appear before CBI. He also said both BJP and Trinamool Congress stood exposed.