In staying away from Cong, TMC isolates itself in House

TMC's policy of staying away from Congress isolates itself after suspension of RS MPs

The Trinamool Congress had stayed away from a meeting of the Opposition parties convened by the Congress on Monday.

Opposition walk out of Rajya Sabha after Chairman Venkaiah Naidu refuses to revoke the suspension of 12 MPs. Credit: Sansad TV

Though the Trinamool Congress has of late started distancing itself from the Congress, suspension of the 12 MPs, including two of its own, from the Rajya Sabha has put Mamata Banerjee’s party under pressure as it found itself isolated from the rest of the Opposition.

The Trinamool Congress had stayed away from a meeting of the Opposition parties convened by the Congress on Monday. It also did not send anyone to take part in a consultation the leaders of the Opposition parties had on Tuesday.

The MPs of Trinamool Congress on Tuesday also stayed back in the Rajya Sabha for a while even after the members of the Congress and the other Opposition parties walked out to protest against suspension of their 12 colleagues from the House.

Read more: Explained: When is a Member of Parliament suspended?

Banerjee’s MPs in the Lok Sabha too did not join the members of the Congress and the other opposition parties, when they protested on the same issue and staged a walkout.

But, by the end of the day, the Trinamool Congress’s policy of keeping away from the Congress ended up isolating itself and it joined the other opposition parties in a demonstration near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Parliament House complex, protesting against the suspension of the 12 members from the Rajya Sabha and the “dictatorial attitude” of the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Trinamool Congress also announced on Tuesday that its Dola Sen and Shanta Chhetri would join the 10 other suspended Rajya Sabha MPs of the Congress, Shiv Sena and the two communist parties in a protest demonstration near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue from Wednesday.

Banerjee’s party apparently changed its tack a bit after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party conveyed to it that it should not weaken the opposition unity in parliament just for its differences with the Congress.

Derek O’Brien, the Trinamool Congress’s MP in the Rajya Sabha, told journalists that the opposition parties might pursue “different tactics” to counter the BJP, but they all had a “broad understanding”.

He said that the Trinamool Congress had been fully in favour of unity among the opposition parties for the sake of the fight against the BJP Government, but it would never allow itself to be reduced to a “rubber stamp” of any other party.

O’Brien underlined the distinction between the Trinamool Congress and the Congress’s allies like Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Shiv Sena, DMK and the NCP.

The Trinamool Congress went solo against the BJP and trounced it in the state assembly elections in West Bengal earlier this year.

Though the two parties had coordinated protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government during the monsoon session of Parliament, the Trinamool Congress distanced itself from the Congress just before the winter session commenced on Monday.

Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, was on a tour to New Delhi last week. But, unlike her last visit to the national capital, she did not have a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Her party opened its door for 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya and thus turned into the main opposition party in the BJP-ruled north-eastern state overnight.

She also admitted into her party Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s former confidante Ashok Tanwar and cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad, who had quit the BJP to join the Congress in February 2019. Two other well-known leaders of the Congress in Goa and Assam – Luizinho Faleiro and Sushmita Dev – had earlier joined the Trinamool Congress.

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