KOLKATA: The West Bengal Congress is "happy" that Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi will not attend Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's mega rally here on Saturday and wants Mallikarjun Kharge, who is expected to represent the party at the event, to highlight the alleged torture faced by its workers in the state, party leaders said on Wednesday.
The West Bengal Congress wanted the party's national president and the UPA Chairperson to stay away from the January 19 rally, being dubbed as a mega opposition event by Trinamool Congress, and send another leader as Banerjee had also skipped the swearing-in ceremony of Kamal Nath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister last month and had instead sent party MP Dinesh Trivedi.
Banerjee had said on Tuesday that Congress will be represented by Kharge, the party's leader in Lok Sabha, at the joint opposition rally being hosted by TMC.
"We are happy that the party high-command has respected our sentiments. The sentiment of the state leadership was against Soniaji or Rahulji attending the January 19 rally. So we had requested the party high-command to consider the sentiments of the state unit," a senior state Congress leader said.
According to state Congress sources, the Bengal Congress leadership is likely to send a brief to Kharge for his speech to be delivered at the rally.
"We will brief him (Kharge) on the reign of terror in West Bengal and how our party workers are fighting against policies of the state government despite all odds," another state Congress leader said.
Congress leaders told PTI on condition of anonymity that TMC is averse to Rahul Gandhi leading the opposition front and it was evident when DMK leader M K Stalin proposed his name as the PM candidate.
"We have also seen that after Congress' victory in three Hindi heartland states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh due to Rahulji's leadership, all the opposition parties had congratulated him except TMC, which didn't want to give credit to him," a Congress leader said, while alleging that the TMC considers Rahul Gandhi as a threat for Banerjee's prime ministerial ambitions.
After the Congress won three assembly elections last month, its state unit had said the TMC leaders were having "sleepless nights" fearing that their dream of Banerjee becoming the prime minister may not be fulfilled.