Why Rahul Gandhi Supports Mamata Banerjee’s Dharna, But His Party Can’t

Kolkata: The West Bengal Congress has now joined the Left in alleging that Mamata Banerjee’s dharnawas part of a larger conspiracy between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP. This, sources in the party said, has underlined the impossible situation that the party’s state unit finds itself in.

It was a plea filed by senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan in 2013 that led to the Supreme Court ordering the CBI to investigate the chit fund scam. On the other hands, Congress president Rahul Gandhi called Mamata Banerjee on Sunday, within hours of her taking to the streets to protest against the CBI, and extended the party’s support. Ahmed Patel, sources added, had also called Banerjee on multiple occasions.

On Tuesday, reacting to the Supreme Court direction to Kolkata police commissioner Rajiv Kumar to appear before the CBI, Mannan, now the leader of opposition, posed a question. “Why is Narendra Modi suddenly active on this? The TMC and the BJP have got together for this drama,” he said.

Mannan argued that it was in the best interest of the BJP and the TMC for Mamata Banerjee to “appear as the most anti-BJP voice”.

“She wants to show that no one is more anti-BJP than her. That is a reflection of the significant number of anti-BJP voters in Bengal. But there is also a lot of anger against the TMC,” he said.

The TMC, he argued, hasn’t “actually been tested electorally” since “voters haven’t been able to vote freely in the state since 2014”. “Whenever there has been a fair election, TMC has lost,” he added.

He argued that the Congress’s victory in the recent cycle of Assembly elections was at the heart of this ‘conspiracy’. “After these (victories), no one can deny the Congress’s strength. Seeing this and the fact that Rahul Gandhi is the central point in an opposition alliance, the TMC and BJP are conspiring to shift the focus away.”

But this dichotomy, of the Congress’s central unit supporting Banerjee and the state unit protesting against her, reflects not just the impossible choice ahead of the Congress, but also the extent to which its strength has weakened as it prepares for 2019.