Malda (WB): Amid efforts by the Congress to mollify the TMC following a seat-sharing impasse in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday declared she would not leave any Lok Sabha seat for the grand old party, accusing it of aligning with the CPI (M) to bolster the BJP, as turmoil in the opposition bloc INDIA deepened in the state.
The feisty TMC boss also accused the CPI (M) of ruining her party's relationship with the Congress, its ally in the opposition bloc INDIA at the national level.
Banerjee, who was speaking at a public distribution programme here, said the TMC decided to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha polls alone in West Bengal after the Congress declined her offer to contest two seats in the state.
"The Congress does not have even one MLA in the state assembly... I offered them two Lok Sabha seats, both in Malda, but they wanted more. So, I told them I will not share a single seat with them. CPI (M) is their leader," she said.
Accusing the Congress and the CPI(M) of collusion to strengthen the BJP in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee asserted that only the Trinamool Congress was actively opposing the saffron party.
"CPI (M) is now Congress' leader. I will never forgive the CPI (M). I will also not forgive those who support the CPI (M). I told them they have to leave the CPI (M) first. By colluding with CPI (M), they are supporting the BJP. I have seen that in the last panchayat elections," she said.
Her remarks came days after she had announced that her party would contest all the 42 Lok Sabha seats alone in the state, delivering a severe blow to the opposition bloc INDIA in the state.
Efforts to mollify Banerjee, with Congress acknowledging her pivotal role in the opposition coalition and her indispensability in the fight against the BJP, failed to sway TMC's stance.
Without naming anyone, she took potshots at Rahul Gandhi's ongoing yatra, which is presently in Malda, saying, "There are a few people who will come during election time, chirp and then leave." Earlier in 2010, during Rahul Gandhi's visit to West Bengal, Banerjee, then at the forefront of opposing the CPI(M) led Left Front regime, had dubbed him as the "cuckoo of spring" (Basanter Kokil), a proverb she used to dub the Congress leader as a politician who only visits during elections.
Alleging that the CPI (M) had "tortured" people of the state during its 34-year rule, the TMC chief said she would "never be able to forgive" the Left party.
Banerjee said she has "no objection" if anyone from the family of former Congress stalwart from Malda, the late Gani Khan Chowdhury, contests the election.
"But the TMC will also contest. They (Congress) will fight along with the CPI(M), to strengthen the BJP... only the TMC is capable of politically fighting the BJP in the state. The Congress had been winning both the seats in Malda for the last several years but what have they done for people?" she said.
The stormy petrel of Bengal politics, who ascended to the seat of power after ending the 34-year-long Left rule in the state in 2011, accused the CPI (M) of running her relationship with the Congress.
"The CPI (M) has ruined our relationship with the Congress," she said.
Last week, Banerjee had accused the CPI (M) of striving to control the opposition bloc's agenda, which was unacceptable to her.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, who was in Malda to participate in the party's yatra, asserted that the priorities of Banerjee and the Congress are the same: "to fight against the divisive ideologies of the RSS and the BJP.
"The objectives of the Congress and Mamata Banerjee are the same, that is to fight against the divisive ideologies of the RSS and the BJP. Banerjee is an important pillar of the INDIA bloc," he said.
While the CPI (M), Congress, and TMC form part of the 27-party opposition bloc INDIA, in West Bengal, the grand old party has aligned with the CPI (M) against TMC and BJP.
In the 2019 elections, TMC secured 22 seats, Congress won two, and the BJP bagged 18 seats in the state.
According to sources, the TMC's offer of two seats, based on Congress' 2019 Lok Sabha election performance, was deemed insufficient, escalating tensions between the two parties.
TMC had previously allied with the Congress in the 2001 assembly polls, 2009 Lok Sabha elections, and the 2011 assembly polls, leading to the ousting of the CPI(M)-led Left Front government of 34 years.