KOLKATA: Ties between the Congress and Trinamool Congress reached a new low Monday with the Trinamool leadership terming its ally as a "shameless party" which is not ready to quit the state ministry despite being asked to do so, and the Congress retorting that Trinamool was following the Marxists' path in indulging in campus violence.
Taking the fight to the state secretariat for the first time, the Congress added that the decision to leave the government will be taken by its party high command and not by the Trinamool's leadership.
On Saturday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked partner Congress to walk out of the state combine, if it wanted.
On Monday, Trinamool leader and Rural and Panchayat Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee added to the row, saying: "If they want to stay with CPI-M they can go. We have already said the door is open for them to go out, but still they have not left. They are so shameless that even after being asked to leave, they are still in the ministry."
"Some of them (Congress) are saying that the party does not exit from back door. We are telling that all the doors are open for them to go out," added Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee, another Trinamool leader.
Chatterjee said the Congress has to clarify whether they are with the Marxists or with the Trinamool.
"They are now shedding tears for the farmers. What were they doing for the last few years when we were fighting for the people on the issue of Nandigram, and Singur. Mamata Banerjee had fought all alone," he said while addressing a public rally of Trinamool Youth Congress - the youth wing of the party.
The Trinamool is running an alliance in the state with the Congress - though it is not dependent on the party, and has repeatedly reminded the Congress leadership in Delhi to follow its dictum or face the consequences.
"If they have the guts why don't they leave the ministry and seek re-election without using the name of Mamata Banerjee," said Chatterjee.
Congress leader, Manoj Chakraborty, who is minister of state for parliamentary affairs, retorted: "Whether we will leave the state cabinet or not, it will be decided by our party high command. The day our high command asks us to leave the ministry, we will leave this ministry. We have not got ministries because of somebody's wish or help. We have got ministries because of Congress high command."
Chakraborty reminded the Trinamool that the people of Bengal had voted in favour of the Congress-Trinamool alliance and not in favour of Trinamool exclusively.
"The condemnable incident which happened in Raiganj College will take a heavy toll on the image of the government. The 'Raj Dharma' should be performed impartially. The Trinamool is following the same path of Communist Party of India-Marxist," he said.
The state government has faced immense criticism for taking dual approach in dealing with two incidents of campus violence in the state. Both opposition and the Congress had accused Trinamool of a "partisan approach" in dealing with the incidents as students' affiliated to Trinamool were involved in one incident and student's affiliated to CPI-M were involved in another incident.
Trinamool leader and Union Minister of State for Health Sudip Bandopadhay also joined in the slanging match.
"They (Congress) should not forget that they don't have simple majority in Lok Sabha," Bandopadhay said.
The alliance had taken an ugly shape in last few days over Congress leaders hitting the streets against the state government on various issues and Trinamool reciprocating by terming them as 'B-team' of the Left.
The Trinamool, the second largest constituent of the UPA with 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha and six in the Rajya Sabha, is also mainly responsible for the central government's backtracking on the foreign direct investment (FDI) plan in retail sector after Banerjee raised a red flag against the key reform measure.