UP Cong leaders join TMC; Mamata to visit Varanasi soon

UP Congress leaders join TMC; Mamata says will visit Varanasi soon

The two leaders said they would carry on the fight to oust the BJP from power in UP and the Centre under the leadership of Banerjee

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI File Photo

Two senior Congress leaders of Uttar Pradesh, including party stalwart Kamalpati Tripathi's grandson, on Monday joined the Trinamool Congress, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she is likely to visit that poll-bound state after the Chhat Puja.

The two leaders, Rajeshpati Tripathi and his son Lalitpati Tripathi, said they would carry on the fight to oust the BJP from power in UP and the Centre under the leadership of Banerjee, the TMC supremo.

Rajeshpati Tripathi is an ex-MLC, while Laliteshpati Tripathi is a former UP Congress vice-president and an ex-MLA. Rajeshpati and Laliteshpati are the grandson and the great-grandson of former UP chief minister Kamalapati Tripathi respectively, TMC sources said.

"The faith of people in the TMC is increasing. The joining of the two leaders testifies that we are now an all-India party which can give real fight to the BJP.... We have to move out to fight the BJP as the Congress has failed to put up any fight to it in Uttar Pradesh in the last 15 years," Banerjee told reporters.

The TMC boss said two UP leaders who joined the party invited her to visit Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and she will go there after the Chhat puja. Assembly election is due in UP next year.

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Alleging that the BJP is preventing the TMC from organising political programmes in Goa, Banerjee said she would be going to the western state too in a few days.

Former Goa chief minister and veteran Congress leader Luizinho Faleiro joined the TMC last month and the party said it will contest the assembly election there next year. Former Congress women's wing chief and senior leader from Assam, Sushmita Dev, had also switched over to the TMC sometime back.

The Congress claimed the TMC seeks to help the BJP by trying to weaken the grand old party, while the saffron party did not want to attach much importance to the joining of leaders from other states to the TMC.

Banerjee said, "We are an all India party. We can go anywhere. There is no Lakshman Rekha that can stop us. Lakshman Rekha should be for those who instigate riots. But it is the opposite in BJP-ruled Goa, Tripura, UP. They commit atrocities on Dalits, women, farmers in Hathras and Lakhimpur. They don't allow us to rush to the side of the distressed."

"If necessary, I will sit on the road to organise our programmes in Goa if the BJP government doesn't allow us to organise our programme democratically," she said.

On the late Kamalapati Tripathi, whose grandson and great-grandson joined the TMC, Banerjee said she met the veteran Congress leader during the AICC conference in 1983.

While the Tripathis who belong to the family of freedom fighters and are integrated with the political spectrum of UP, several other families and organisations want to work with the TMC, she said.

"Those who label the TMC as a regional party should keep in mind that every party has a place of origin. Yes, we have a place of origin but aren't we Indians? The Tripathis are from UP, but they are Indians. We hail from a region, but we are all Indians," she added.

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When asked about people leaving the Congress and joining the TMC, Banerjee declined to comment.

State Congress president Adhir Rajan Chowdhury alleged that the TMC's main aim these days is to weaken the Congress nationally and in other states in order to help its "ally" BJP.

"The TMC has constantly been attacking the Congress and poaching our leaders. The political posturing of the TMC is aimed at helping the BJP," he said.

BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh declined to attach much importance to the development.

"The Congress itself is a spent force in Uttar Pradesh, so their leaders joining the TMC hardly matters. The BJP would again return to power in Uttar Pradesh," he said.

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