Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury feels that Trinamool Congress President Mamata Banerjee got a chance by chance in the largely polarizing West Bengal Assembly polls and is not the only “anti-Modi face” who can take on the BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls. On the prospects of a broader anti-BJP alliance ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections, Chowdhary, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said no opposition front can succeed without the help of the Congress. In an interview to PTI, Choudhary said, “This time the elections in West Bengal were largely polarized on the basis of communal and regional identity. The people of the state who did not want the BJP together voted for the Trinamool Congress. The communal rhetoric and intimidating politics of BJP leaders only helped Mamata Banerjee.
“I would say that she is a chance gainer in these elections. The senior Congress leader admitted that the Trinamool Congress got a big victory in the state but added that leaders of several regional opposition parties have made their party win over the BJP. “It is true that he fought against the BJP and its election system. It’s a big win, no doubt about that. But she is not the only regional leader to defeat the BJP. Arvind Kejriwal, Lalu Prasad Yadav, MK Stalin, Pinarayi Vijayan have also done this. Therefore, it would be unfair to other leaders to say that he is the only face of the opposition.
The West Bengal Congress President rubbished the assertion of some leaders of his own party that he is a bigger critic of Mamata Banerjee than the BJP and often makes statements against her. “I have been speaking against both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP. When I saw that the Trinamool Congress was beating our people in Bengal, I targeted them. Whenever I did this, I did it for my party. I have no personal enmity with Mamata Banerjee.
Chowdhury, however, did not respond to a question as to why the top Congress leaders stayed largely away from criticizing Mamata Banerjee or campaigning in West Bengal. He said that if the Congress party forges an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in future, the state unit will reduce the rhetoric against Banerjee.
Asked about the Congress’s massive defeat in West Bengal, Chowdhury said the election was polarized purely on religious and regional lines, but he expects the party to be in power in the state for more than two decades after independence. Congress will again find its place. He said the minority vote was polarized after four Muslims were killed in Cooch Behar by central forces during the elections.
The Congress fought these elections in alliance with the CPI(M) and Muslim Maulana Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF party. While the ISF got only one seat in the election, the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress could not even open an account in the assembly elections for the first time. On the question of possibility of alliance with CPI(M) and ISF in future also, the Congress leader said clearly, “There will be no relationship with ISF. We have no relation with them. The CPI(M) shared seats with them. ISF had fielded its candidates against our candidates in many seats.
Asked about the recent reports on former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s possibility of removing Chowdhury as the leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, Choudhary said he had no such information. “I have no such information,” he said. I will be most happy if Rahul Gandhi removes me. Praising Rahul Gandhi’s leadership ability, Choudhary said the BJP deliberately tries to defame him as it is afraid of him. Whenever there is talk of failure, everyone starts questioning Rahul Gandhi.