Despite concerns that the acrimony from the Bengal panchayat elections could disrupt the plans for the next Opposition unity meeting, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has confirmed that its leader Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee will attend the meeting in Bengaluru. The meeting, scheduled for July 17-18, is expected to involve 24 Opposition parties and will focus on more substantial issues this time.
According to TMC sources, Mamata and Abhishek will arrive in Bengaluru on July 17 but may skip the dinner hosted by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and attended by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi later that day. Instead, they will participate in the talks scheduled for the following day. PTI reported that Mamata will not attend the dinner due to post-operative care advised by doctors following a ligament tear sustained during the panchayat election campaign.
Sources suggest that Abhishek’s presence at the talks signifies his increasing prominence within the TMC and that he is expected to set the tone for the party’s message. This might involve expressing dissatisfaction with the aggressive campaign against the TMC in West Bengal by the state units of the Congress and CPI(M).
A senior TMC leader emphasized their determination to defeat the BJP and their seriousness about forging a national alliance. However, they highlighted the issue of the Congress and Left’s stance in Bengal, which Abhishek is expected to address during the meeting.
On July 9, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge commented on the violence during the Bengal panchayat polls, stressing the need for fair elections, stating that “otherwise, democracy will not prevail.”
Mamata Banerjee has expressed her displeasure with the criticism from the Congress and CPI(M), stating, “I feel pity for the CPI(M) and Congress. I will not say anything because there is talk of a national alliance, but do you think you will behave this way and I will entertain you?”
The TMC’s main source of dissatisfaction is the Congress Bengal president, Adhir Chowdhury, who has been a vocal critic of Mamata and the TMC. During the panchayat elections, the TMC faced significant challenges in Chowdhury’s stronghold of Murshidabad.
Chowdhury, in response, accused Mamata of being hypocritical, stating, “Mamata Banerjee played with the Opposition’s blood in the panchayat elections, and now she is going to talk about Opposition unity nationally. This duplicity is not acceptable.”