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‘Fascistic mindset’, says Congress after Mamata’s ‘what UPA?’ remark

The Times of India logo The Times of India 03-12-2021
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NEW DELHI: A day after TMC chief Mamata Banerjee declared that UPA was dead and Congress was not fighting BJP with Rahul Gandhi often going abroad, a virtual war of words broke out with the grand old party accusing her of having a “fascistic mindset” and narrating her long history of alliance with BJP.

Congress’ stinging attack came even as Mamata’s advisor Prashant Kishor said that a leadership role was not the “divine right” of Congress alone.

In response, Congress MP and communications chief Randeep Surjewala said, “There is a difference between political opportunism and an ideological fight. You swap sides and then tell us about principles? This is the same Mamata who was part of the NDA with Vajpayee. After 2001, she allied with Congress for assembly elections. In 2003, she again fell out with Congress and said, in her own words, that BJP is her natural ally. In 2004, she fought with BJP again. And, again, in 2009 she returned to UPA. Mamata quit UPA in 2012. Who is she to comment on UPA? Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, is fighting an ideological battle against not just Modi, but BJP and RSS.”

READ ALSO: Mamata Banerjee meets Sharad Pawar, says ‘no UPA now’

The aggressive riposte came as Kishor said that after having lost 90% of the elections in the last 10 years, Congress cannot claim to have a divine right to claim the leadership role of an anti-BJP alliance.

Trinamool Congress defended the party chief’s “there is no UPA now” remark ” by saying she was factually correct as UPA was formed under the leadership of Congress to form government and lasted 10 years from 2004 to 2014, when the constituent parties were in office at the Centre.

READ ALSO: TMC defends Mamata's 'UPA' remark, says alliance was created for governance

“UPA was created in May 2004 with a clear purpose which was for governance, almost the same set of parties came back to office in 2009 and UPA continued. But since May 2014, another alliance came to office for governance, so UPA does not exist. If you go by numbers, many of those parties have a diminished strength in the House… but numbers do not matter as they are not in government," TMC’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien said.

Surjewala was unsparing in his attack on Mamata. “BJP is destroying India’s democratic systems. And we must ask whether Mamata isn’t doing the same thing that Modi does. She is also buying MLAs and breaking parties. Somehow, she has endorsed and adopted the same fascistic thought process she is pretending to fight.”

He added, “In August, she said everyone must come together to fight BJP. She needs to introspect as to whether she is fighting Congress or BJP with a consultant to support her.”

The provocation appeared to be Kishor’s tweet who amplified Mamata by saying “The IDEA and SPACE that Congress represents is vital for a strong opposition. But Congress’ leadership is not the DIVINE RIGHT of an individual especially, when the party has lost more than 90% elections in last 10 years. Let opposition leadership be decided Democratically.”

TMC also emphasized its credentials saying it is very much part of the united opposition in Parliament this session, with most parties supporting each other on the common issues that they have decided to take up with the government. O’Brien said, “We are saying 12 of our opposition members have been suspended from Rajya Sabha and they are sitting on a dharna to protest against it. It is not a TMC dharna, all the opposition party leaders are going there and showing their solidarity with the suspended MPs from TMC, Congress, Shiv Sena, CPM and CPI.”

On repeated questions on why Mamata has been targeting Congress, O’Brien said, “Mamata didi is here for a cause, for the fight, she is here through struggle and the struggle was not against CPM, she had to struggle with her own party Congress to fight against the Left Front government in Bengal… she had to form her own party.”

Elaborating on TMC’s expansion into states beyond Bengal where the party has been inducting members from Congress, he said the party was being “pragmatic” in its moves and “accepting the ground reality” in politics. “The focus for TMC is to defeat or throw out BJP. Hence the party is going into states where BJP is strong and the opponent is looking weak,” he said.

The to and fro, triggered by Mamata’s comment on Congress after her meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena leaders, suggests escalating confrontation within the opposition camp over the leadership issue. Mamata’s aggression has followed her victory in the West Bengal elections, which made her believe that she can use her triumph over BJP for a national role. It is now to be seen how NCP, Shiv Sena, JMM and DMK react to Mamata’s efforts to marginalise Congress.

CPM said neither TMC nor Congress will succeed in their efforts to lead a united opposition against BJP. In the latest edition of the party mouthpiece, People’s Democracy, it said the success of the farmers’ struggle shows what a united and sustained fight can achieve. It said unity will be issue-based, like it is in the case of MPs’ suspension, and that “no omnibus unity” at the all-India level with a “leader” is going to work.

“The broadest unity can be forged through the united actions of different sections of the working people. This should be accompanied by the projection of alternative policies and politics to the Hindutva authoritarian regime, around which all democratic and secular forces can rally around,” it said.

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