'Looks like she is contemplating something new excluding Congress': Raut on Mamata's Opposition outreach efforts
MUMBAI: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday claimed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was contemplating an alliance excluding the Congress.
Raut in his weekly column 'Rokhthok' in the Sena mouthpiece Saamana also claimed Banerjee having said that her party Trinamool Congress (TMC) will not test political waters Maharashtra.
Notably, the TMC leadership on Saturday said it would continue to cobble up an alternative front as the Congress "failed to lead the fight" against the BJP.
Banerjee during her recent Mumbai visit had made a cryptic statement that "there is no UPA now".
On Friday, TMC mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla' had launched a fresh attack on the Congress, saying it has gone into a "deep freezer".
Recently, 'Jago Bangla' had also claimed that Mamata Banerjee, and not Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has emerged as the face of the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Raut, whose party shares power with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, on Sunday claimed "it looks like Banerjee is contemplating something new excluding the Congress".
He also claimed that during her meeting with Shiv Sena leader and state minister Aaditya Thackeray here a few days back, she told the latter that "we will not come here as the Shiv Sena and the NCP are strong".
The Rajya Sabha member noted that the TMC is going to contest the forthcoming Assembly polls in neighbouring Goa and is also spreading its wings in the north-eastern states of Tripura and Meghalaya.
He said during her Mumbai visit, Banerjee had discussed with Aaditya Thackeray the exchange of tourism and culture between the two states.
She sought land for the construction Bengal Bhavan in Mumbai to enable patients to get accommodation while coming for treatment here, especially at the Tata cancer hospital, said Raut, who is the executive editor of Saamana.
"The two states share an emotional bond dating back to history. It was decided that the bond should be further strengthened for the benefit of the younger generation so that they can get a peak into the history," the Shiv Sena leader said.
He also said Banerjee has invited Aaditya Thackeray for the upcoming Kolkata International Film Festival.
On Saturday, Saamana said keeping the Congress away from national politics and creating an opposition alliance parallel to the UPA without it is akin to strengthening the ruling BJP and the "fascist" forces.
The Marathi daily had also said those who don't want a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) should make their stand clear publicly, instead of creating confusion by talking behind back.
During her Mumbai visit, Aaditya Thackeray and Raut had met Banerjee on behalf of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is currently recuperating after a cervical spine surgery.
Meanwhile, the TMC leadership on Saturday declined to attach much importance to Shiv Sena's remarks on the party's effort to build an opposition alliance, one parallel to the UPA, and said that it would continue to cobble up an alternative front as the Congress "failed to lead the fight" against the BJP.
In a snub to TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, whose party is currently engaged in a tussle with the Congress, the Shiv Sena on Saturday said keeping the grand old party away from national politics while creating an opposition alliance parallel to the UPA is akin to strengthening the ruling BJP and other "fascist" forces.
In an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana', the Sena also said that those who don't want a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) should make their stand clear publicly instead of creating confusion by talking behind curtains.
"The Shiv Sena is free to have its opinion. But let's not talk about what is right and wrong. The Shiv Sena itself was part of BJP-led NDA. It left the NDA after a fracas over the chief minister's post in Maharashtra. It joined hands with the NCP and the Congress for CM's chair," TMC MP Sougata Roy said.
He stated that the party would continue to increase its strength and venture out to other states.
"The TMC only wants opposition unity to be strengthened. We have never said that an opposition alliance will be forged without Congress. But if Congress can't perform its duty, we have nothing to do. They can't blame us for their incompetence. If one fails, then someone else has to fill the vacuum," he said.
Echoing him, TMC's state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said Shiv Sena's comment is out of its "alliance compulsion" in Maharashtra.
"We don't want any misunderstanding with the Shiv Sena. It is running a government in Maharashtra with the support of Congress. So they have some compulsions, and these statements have been made out of that compulsion. We are cobbling up an opposition front as the Congress has failed to do so," he underlined.
Reacting to TMC's remarks, veteran Congress leader and MP Pradip Bhattacharya said the activities and statements of the TMC are only going to help the BJP.
"It seems the TMC is more interested in fighting the Congress than the BJP. The TMC is doing everything to break opposition unity and, in turn, helping the BJP in its political interests," he said.
The TMC has been up in arms over the Congress' alleged failure to fight against the BJP.
Banerjee during her recent visit to Mumbai had said that "UPA doesn't exist".
Her camp termed the Congress an "incapable and incompetent" party that has gone into a "deep freezer".
The relationship had soured after TMC mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla' claimed that Banerjee, and not Rahul Gandhi, has emerged as the face of the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Last week, the ruling camp in Bengal had said it is "disinterested" in coordinating with the Congress during the winter session of Parliament, but maintained that it would cooperate with other opposition parties on various issues concerning people's interest.