Guwahati, Jan 21, 2024, IANS
Guwahati, Jan 21 (IANS) Rahul Gandhi met the leaders from different opposition parties on Sunday in Assam’s Gohpur on the sidelines of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. Other senior Congress leaders also attended the meeting which was thought to be crucial in chalking out strategy to counter BJP in Assam and other states of the northeast.
However, the Trinamool Congress decided to skip the meeting to mark their displeasure as the Congress has been delaying the seat sharing talks even after the West Bengal Chief Mamata Banerjee more than once stressed to finalise the seat sharing among the allies of INDIA bloc.
Much before the 26 opposition parties forged the INDIA alliance, Congress in Assam was successful in bringing together 12 parties to form a unified opposition forum to take on BJP’s fierce election machinery in the state under the leadership of Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The joint opposition forum included Left parties, Sivasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi’s Raijor Dol, former All Assam Students Union (AASU) leader Lurinjyoti Gogoi’s Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP), and others. But the joint forum lacks a prominent player in Assam politics – All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Initially, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were also not given a place in the opposition forum.
Following the announcement of INDIA allaince, the situation changed to a great extent and both TMC and AAP are now constituents of the opposition alliance.
According to top sources in Trinamool Congress, the party leadership is not happy in the manner the Congress has been dealing with the seat sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“Mamata Banerjee in September last year urged the opposition leaders to finalise the seat sharing arrangement latest by September end or mid-October. She mentioned that everybody needs sufficient time to prepare on ground for the battle against the BJP. But Congress did not give attention to that. West Bengal Chief Minister lastly told Congress to wrap up the seat sharing process by 31st December. This was also literally unheard,” the TMC leader said.
Assam Trinamool Congress President Ripun Bora told IANS: “We have skipped the meeting with Rahul Gandhi as we are very unhappy with the way Congress has been handling the alliance.”
He said that the Trinamool Congress has been locked in a straight battle with the BJP in Bengal and in Assam though their party still has to grow to become the primary opposition, TMC has been fighting the saffron camp with full force.
He said that in the recently held North Cachar Autonomous Council elections, the Trinamool Congress candidates secured more votes than the Congress.
He said that they are with the INDIA bloc and the party leadership will wait till the last moment for the seat sharing talks to be finalised.
“Our main aim is to defeat the BJP. We shall continue our fight to oust the saffron camp from power,” he said.
The tension began to mount a few months ago among the allies in the opposition bloc led by Congress over the ticket distribution. Assam has a total of 14 Lok Sabha seats. In the 2019 general elections, Congress fought for the maximum number of seats. But this time, as they forged a bigger alliance, the allies have started demanding seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party leaders have said that they are keen to contest on four Lok Sabha seats. The other key constituent of INDIA bloc, Trinamool Congress has also demanded at least four seats for them. The Left parties have requested to give them three seats. The Raijor Dal chief and Sivasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi has openly said that he would contest from the Jorhat Lok Sabha seat.
Congress is not ready to give its allies plenty of seats. Although the state Congress president Bhupen Borah has been speaking about sacrifice to combat with the BJP in polls, he also said, “All parties including the Congress are ready to sacrifice for the cause. I hope every leader will understand this.”
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