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Rahul calls for WB Cong meet on July 6

By Oneindia Staff Writer

Kolkata, July 3: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has convened a meeting of the party's West Bengal unit on July 6 in New Delhi to discuss various organisational issues, a senior leader said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi

Though the meeting has been called to deliberate on organisational matters, the issue of "poaching of Congress MLAs and elected representatives of the party by the Trinamool Congress (TMC)" is also likely to come up for discussion, a senior state Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity.

"We received a call from Delhi (the party high-command) and were asked to be present at our president's office at 11 am sharp on July 6," Abdul Mannan, the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, told PTI.

"We will present our point of view on the issue of constant poaching of our elected representatives by the TMC, thus weakening our party and paving the way for the BJP in Bengal," a senior Congress leader said.

The Congress had won 44 seats in the 2016 state Assembly polls in alliance with the Left Front.

In the last two years, the party has lost nearly 11 of its MLAs to the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC. Barring Manas Bhunia, who had resigned as a Congress MLA after he was elected as a Rajya Sabha MP from the TMC, the other defectors did not even resign as legislators after joining the ruling party.

Four other Congress MLAs, who are believed to be holding talks with the TMC currently, are likely to follow suit on July 21, during a mega rally of the ruling party.

In this backdrop, holding its fort in the state is a great challenge for the Congress's central leadership.

The party has four Lok Sabha members from the state out of 42.

"We will also tell the high-command that the party should never forge an alliance with the TMC to fight the BJP as the TMC is never serious about fighting the BJP -- neither in Bengal nor nationally," the Congress leader said.

Cracks have appeared in the West Bengal Congress over the issue of forging an alliance with the TMC in the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha polls, with a section of leaders keen on the tie-up and the state leadership rejecting the idea.

The Congress, which has lost its political ground in the state to the TMC and even the BJP to a certain extent, has been fighting hard under the leadership of state party chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to make its presence felt in parts of West Bengal.

A section of the party MPs and MLAs feels that aligning with the TMC will be the best way to win the maximum number of seats in 2019.

However, Chowdhury and other leaders of the party feel aligning with the TMC will amount to "committing suicide" for the Congress in West Bengal.

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