First cracks visible in run up to the Bhabanipur Assembly bypoll, with the Left is fielding a youth leader against the Bengal CM
Three weeks after top Opposition leaders at a virtual meet, convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on August 20, talked about joint action against the Narendra Modi government, there seems to be little progress on the ground.
There are still no signs of a core committee — a suggestion given by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee — to plan coordinated action against the Centre’s policies.
In fact, the first cracks are visible in the run up to the September 30 bypoll to the Bhabanipur Assembly constituency of West Bengal, in which Ms. Banerjee herself is a candidate. Though the Congress had announced that it wouldn’t field any candidate against Ms. Banerjee, the Left Front has fielded a youth leader against the Bengal Chief Minister.
The Bhabanipur seat was originally part of the Congress quota when the party fought the Assembly elections in an alliance with the Left Front this May.
Though the alliance had failed to win any seat in the Assembly polls, the Left Front’s compulsion to stay politically relevant in Bengal prompted them to put up a candidate against the West Bengal CM.
“We cannot afford to be on the same side in Bengal and Kerala and that’s why joint action or common political programme looks difficult in these two States,” a senior Left leader told The Hindu.
On August 20, 18 Opposition parties that were part of Ms. Gandhi’s meeting had given a call to have protests against the Modi government’s policies between September 20 and 30. Among those who attended included the Bengal Chief Minister, her Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray, Tamil Nadu’s M.K. Stalin, Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren, apart from other top leaders like Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India-Marxist), D. Raja (Communist Party of India), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Mehbooba Mufti (People’s Democratic Party) and Tejaswi Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal).
Though the respective State units of these parties are likely to work out the details, upcoming polls in States like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab could determine the level of cooperation.
For example, ahead of bypolls to six Assembly constituencies in Assam, the Congress announced its break up with the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) despite the fact Mr. Ajmal was part of the Congress president’s virtual meet in which she had “rise above” party compulsions .
Some leaders, however, insist Opposition parties would come together on crucial issues such as jointly extending support to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s call for Bharat Bandh on September 27 to mark one year of the three controversial farm laws.
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