Crack in TMC-Congress relationship widens

Crack in TMC-Congress relationship widens as leaders join Mamata Banerjee

Banerjees’ party has clearly sent a strong message by inducting party leaders not only from North East and Goa, where TMC is contesting polls

Congress-Trinamool Congress relationship is set to nosedive further with the West Bengal party eyeing political space beyond its traditional base and chipping away some more leaders close to Rahul Gandhi.

Ashok Tanwar, who joined the Trinamool Congress on Tuesday is the second erstwhile close aide of Rahul Gandhi after Sushmita Dev to have hitched his bandwagons to Banerjee.

While Dev, a prominent face from Assam Congress was the daughter of former Union Minister and Congress veteran Santosh Mohan Dev, Tanwar was a prominent Dalit face of the party in Haryana. 

Also Read | Not meeting Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee signals TMC's intent to expand to northern states

Both Sushmita Dev and Ashok Tanwar rose high in the Congress rank thanks to their proximity with Rahul Gandhi, who has been promoting young leadership in the party.

While Dev suddenly quit Congress and joined TMC a couple of months back and was nominated Rajya Sabha member by the latter, Tanwar was in the wilderness after quitting Congress in 2019 after being cornered and literally forced out from leadership role in Haryana by his arch-rival and party veteran Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

While Dev was a vocal Congress voice in Parliament, Tanwar had tried to deepen the Congress reach in the state through street activism during his five-year tenure as state party chief.

The Trinamool Congress poaching both young talents of Congress nurtured by Rahul Gandhi, opens up the leadership issue again, something to which Tanwar also indicated when he said, “Mamata is the only leader, who can defeat BJP.”

Also Read | Congress leader Kirti Azad joins TMC

“Congress is not able to tolerate all those who work hard. If it was Mamata Banerjee in the past, it is me and others now. Congress only values persons with suitcases. I will campaign in three states: Punjab, Haryana and Goa. Mamata has also agreed to visit Haryana in near future,” he said.

Cricketer turned politician Kirti Azad, who joined Trinamool Congress three years after joining in 2018 and six years after being suspended from the BJP in 2015 and is the son of former Bihar Chief Minister Bhagwat Jha Azad. He is a three-term MP from Darbhanga in Mithilanchal in Bihar. Azad, who had changed two parties in the last three years said, “I will work under her leadership till I retire from politics.”

Leaders from Rahul Gandhi camp—Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada have joined the BJP. Now Rahul camp followers joining even a regional party will give fresh ammunition to Rahul Gandhi's critics within the party.

Also Read | Mamata Banerjee to meet PM Modi on November 24, raise Tripura violence issue 

There was intense speculation last year about former JDU MP Pavan Kumar Varma joining Congress. Varma, a  leader from Bihar however joined TMC on Tuesday.

In the last week of October Congress leaders of Uttar Pradesh--- Rajeshpati Tripathi and Lalitpati Tripathi, the grandson and the great-grandson of party stalwart and former UP Chief Minister Kamalpati Tripathi had joined Trinamool Congress.

Banerjees’ party has clearly sent a strong message by inducting party leaders not only from North East and Goa, where TMC is contesting polls (Tripura and Goa) but also by poaching on leaders from areas with little influence of the party like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where Congress itself is trying to revive for last three decades and has been crushed under the weight of local regional parties.

Also Read | No issue of who will lead anti-BJP alliance, people need to be given political option: Pawar

TMC, another regional party’s forays in these areas forces another challenge to the Congress which was piggy-riding these regional parties to stay relevant as Banerjee is set to reciprocate by supporting regional parties in these states who had supported her during West Bengal polls.

In Congress, Samajwadi Party which is emerging as the principal challenger to BJP has shunned Congress while in Bihar RJD has also kept Congress at a yard’s residence during recent by-polls.

Both these parties had backed Banerjee during West Bengal polls.

The emergence of a regional party axis in this way poses a challenge to the Opposition space of Congress.

While Trinamool Congress leaders have repeatedly taken a jibe at Rahul Gandhi, Congress has lambasted Banerjee’s party’s foray in Goa, where TMC has inducted former Chief Minister and Congress leader Luizinho Falerio, who was also given a Rajya Sabha seat.

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