KOLKATA: Newly appointed Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury on Friday challenged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to engage in a debate with him on the rise of the BJP in the state and reasons that led to its ascent, while asserting that "wild allegations" that his party joined hands with the saffron camp are "bereft of truth".
Claiming that Banerjee was the "biggest agent of the BJP" in Bengal, he pointed out that many TMC MPs had skipped voting on the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament.
"I challenge the TMC supremo (Mamata) to a debate on the rise of the BJP in Bengal and reasons leading to it; do you have the guts to accept it?" he said in a video message.
"I came to know the TMC has alleged in Delhi that the Congress joined hands with the BJP in Bengal, and regional outfits do not trust the grand old party. Before hurling stones at Adhir Chowdhury, I urge you (Banerjee) to ask your leaders to look at themselves in the mirror," he said.
The five-time Bahrampur MP said the timing of the allegation was "interesting" as it was made soon after he was made the president of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee.
"They are making such malicious allegations as they know that Adhir Chowdhury will not work in accordance with their diktat," he stated.
Chowdhury, who is also the Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, sought to know why the state's ruling party MPs had skipped voting on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
"If Didi (Mamata Banerjee) had ordered them to vote against the CAB, would any of her party MPs have had the guts to remain absent?" he contended.
All regional parties in the country know well that the Congress is the "only option" to fight the BJP, the veteran leader maintained.
"Just because the TMC supremo along with some other states opposed the GST issue, it does not mean that regional parties will accept her as the all-India leader in their fight against the saffron camp.
"It is because the Congress put pressure on the BJP government at the Centre, the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was introduced for returnee migrant workers," Chowdhury claimed.
Lakhs of migrant workers who returned to Bengal due to the lockdown are now going back to their places of work, having got no relief or work in their own state, he said.
"Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said 11 lakh migrant workers returned to Bengal. The state, however, did not gain anything from the Rs 50,000-crore project (Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan), the benefits of which were reaped by Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha," the senior Congress leader added.