After desertion by MLAs, Congress, TMC in war of words

After desertion by 12 Meghalaya MLAs, Congress, Trinamool in a war of words

The back-to-back desertions from Congress to Trinamool Congress has raised question marks on their leadership’s strategy

In the last two months, TMC has poached a dozen of leaders not only in Bengal but also in Assam, Tripura, UP and Bihar. Credit: PTI/Getty Images

Already battered by repeated desertions, Congress got another blow from Trinamool Congress as 12 of their 17 MLAs in the Meghalaya Assembly on Thursday joined Mamata Banerjee’s party, kicking off a war of words between the two main Opposition forces.

The main Opposition party, already at the receiving end of poaching from the ruling BJP in the run-up to multiple state elections, cried foul with Trinamool Congress’ back-to-back attempts to breach its rank and file.

In the last two months, Trinamool Congress has poached a dozen of leaders not only in West Bengal, where TMC is the ruling party, but also in Assam, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The loss of leaders in the Northeast will be particularly harmful to Congress as after having lost the entire region to BJP in the last seven years, the Grand Old Party was seeking a comeback. After inducting Congress’ youth leader of Assam Sushmita Dev into Trinamool ahead of Tripura elections, the mega desertion in Meghalaya means Trinamool is making a serious bid to replace the Congress from the position of a prime challenger to the BJP in the region.

In Tripura earlier, it was the Congress leaders' shift to Trinamool that had helped the BJP form its first government, as the same MLAs had later lock, stock and barrel moved from TMC to the BJP, something which Banerjee's party is now trying to reverse.

Also read: What led Mukul Sangma, 11 other Congress Meghalaya MLAs to move to TMC?

The back-to-back desertions from Congress to TMC has raised question marks on Congress leadership’s strategy and hold over the state units.

Adding insult to injury, former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the decision to shift allegiance to Mamata Banerjee's party was taken after "exhaustive due diligence and analysis”.

The development coincided with Banerjee’s attempts to expand her party's footprint beyond West Bengal, something that has clearly irked the Congress party. 

AICC communication department chief Randeep Surjewala compared TMC’s actions with the BJP's, seeking to potray both parties as two sides of the same coin.

“In democracy, people vote to elect you. Anything else is murder of democracy and a betrayal of people's vote, nothing more, nothing less. Why does everybody blame the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi because Modi does not believe in the power of the ballot, The BJP has been using power of the currency to topple elected governments. They have tried it across the country. They have succeeded in multiple instances. That is why we criticise Modi. If you join the same style and brand of politics, then how are you different?” Surjewala asked.

Trinamool Congress, in a hard-hitting editorial titled 'Incompetent Congress' in its mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla', hit out at the party, flagging “serious problems.” Meanwhile, Surjewala said Congress does not bring down elected governments and that is what sets the party apart.

TMC said, “The Congress has failed to put up a fight against the BJP. On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee and the TMC have shown how to defeat the Modi-Shah juggernaut. The TMC can't be blamed for incompetence and incapability of the Congress to fight against the BJP.”

The AICC leader, however, hit out at Banerjee’s party for the “election tourism” in Goa and asked whether it was “strengthening the BJP or fighting the BJP. All my friends whether in TMC or AAP need to ask themselves and introspect."

While TMC is focussing big on Tripura and Goa, AAP is making a serious bid in Punjab, Goa, and Gujarat, besides contesting in UP, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

In UP, AAP is set to have a tie-up with SP, another regional party that has shunned Congress for an alliance. The developments come soon after the Monsoon Session of Parliament during which a number of Opposition meetings were held to work out a larger united camp against the BJP thus raising a question mark on the future of any such endeavour.

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