WB: Cong leaders want 'open battle' with Trinamool

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Mamata Banerjee-Sonia Gandhi
Bangalore, Jul 10: Leaders of the West Bengal Congress said that they would like to take on the Trinamool Congress (TMC), its ally both at the central and state government, in an 'open battle' for the latter had been allegedly attacking the Congress, including its top leadership. The state leaders also sought permission from the party command to launch an agitation against the TMC.

The top leadership, however, asked them to show restraint till the presidential polls slated for Jul 19, get over. The Congress said it was keeping close tabs on the TMC chief Mamata Banerjee's move during the presidential poll.

According to one quarter in the party, after UPA's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee met the Left parties like the CPI(M) and Forward Bloc which have decided to support him, the already plagued TMC-Congress relation in the state would worsen more. Predicting a worst-case scenario between the two allies, the Congress should try to build an identity of its own in the state, felt the quarter.

"But to challenge the TMC, the Congress must take an all-out approach or otherwise the high popularity of Mamata Banerjee can see its lower base getting seriously eroded. We must put up a continuous agitation and convince the people that we are fighting for them and against the establishment," said an analyst.

Raiganj MP Deepa Das Munshi, who was at Mukherjee's campaign meeting with the MLAs and MPs at the assembly on Monday, expressed her grievance to party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, who was present on the occasion. "TMC is humiliating our top leadership every often. We won't tolerate this," she said. Berhampore MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and state minister Manas Bhunia also took a dig at the TMC, the latter more indirectly. PCC chief Pradip Bhattachary said the party would take a decision as per the situation.

The TMC-Congress relation has, of late, nosedived over various national issues. The issue of the TMC not supporting Pranab Mukherjee looks to have pushed the relation to the brink. In this situation, the Congress feels fighting back against the TMC is the only viable option.

"Even if we pull out, the government will not fall. But by pulling out, we can prove that we are not second to the TMC," said a Congress leader clearly unhappy with the alliance. The Congress leaders said it was Mukherjee who had engineered the alliance to defeat the Left. The TMC should be grateful to him, they said.

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