KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the Trojan Horse of the BJP and should be kept out of all efforts to cobble up an opposition platform ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged on Wednesday.
In an interview to PTI, Chowdhury said that Banerjee was an "untrustworthy ally", trying to grow nationally at the cost of the Congress. "Mamata Banerjee has always tried to bite the hand that fed her. She should be kept out of the efforts to form opposition unity. She is the Trojan Horse of the BJP, who can never be trusted in the fight against the BJP," he said.
"She is desperately trying to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to protect her family and party leaders from the clutches of the CBI and ED. In return, she is helping the BJP achieve its target of Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India). The TMC is trying to sabotage the opposition unity," claimed Chowdhury, the state president of the Congress.
He said that TMC has always grown at the cost of Congress. "First, they did it in Bengal, and now they are trying to do it nationally. The TMC is known for backstabbing its allies," he claimed. His comments came as the Trinamool Congress has been inducting Congress leaders to bolster its national presence.
Among the heavyweight Congress leaders who joined the TMC are Sushmita Dev and former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro. "Mamata Banerjee is dreaming of becoming the next prime minister of the country, and Congress seems to be their biggest roadblock. As long as the Congress is there, she can never be the leader of the opposition front, and that is why she is trying to tarnish the image of the Congress and undermine its leadership," Chowdhury said.
On an article in the TMC's mouthpiece that claimed Banerjee and not Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is the opposition face against Modi, he said the party's leadership was living in a "fool's paradise". "Rahul Gandhi has been the most consistent opposition voice against the BJP and the RSS. Congress still commands a 20 per cent vote share in the country. Apart from BJP, can you name any other party with such a vote share? The answer is no," he said.
Lauding Gandhi's leadership, Chowdhury said the BJP and certain opposition parties deliberately try to discredit him as they were "afraid of him". He said the Congress has never claimed to be the leader of the opposition front as it was the "natural leader".
"Without Congress, there can never be any anti-BJP front in the country. The opposition unity is based on shared ideas and policies, and should not be at the cost of the Congress," he said.
On the crisis in the party's Punjab unit, Chowdhury said that he hoped it would be resolved soon. "Congress is a liberal party, and we allow everybody to place their opinions. Amarinder Singh is a respected leader and no one has ever doubted his administrative capabilities. But, the change of guard was necessary due to growing incumbency in Punjab and a large section of MLAs wanted the change," he said.