Amid the unending slanging match between the Trinamool Congress and BJP in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly elections, state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has said the people of the state are now “exhausted” and “exasperated” with the politics of “harangue” by the two parties and asserted that the Congress-Left combine is gaining ground.
Chowdhury strongly condemned the “heckling” of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee but also disapproved of the TMC’s insider-outsider poll plank.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Chowdhury signaled the Congress was not averse to having an electoral tie-up with the Indian Secular Front launched by Furfura Sharif Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui. He said Siddiqui does not have a “divisive agenda” like Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM but added that “we have not had any kind of structured discussion with them…they are sending feelers to the Congress and the Left.”
The Congress leader said people of the state had started thinking a few months ago that the West Bengal elections would be a battle between the BJP and the TMC, but people are now getting “exhausted and exasperated by the antics of both these two parties”.
“From morning to night, in every television channel and newspaper in Bengal…all are witnessing the circus of both the parties. It has become ridiculous. They don’t have any content or subjects or issues… simply competitive harangue…and competitive hurling of abusive language has become the order of the day in Bengal politics now. So people are getting exasperated by seeing this kind of politics. No public issue is being debated; no substantial issues are being referred to, only competitive Hindutva and competitive communalism that has been persisting here over the years,” he said.
Asked about the raising of Jai Shri Ram slogans at an event to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, he said, “Jai Shri Ram slogans in its contents cannot be debated. That is a different thing. But the way it was hurled was simply intended to humiliate Mamata Banerjee…This kind of incantation of Jai Shri Ram is not proper in view of the programme which was organised…in the presence of Prime Minister Modi, she should have been given proper honour and dignity.”
“It was an attempt to disturb and humiliate Mamata Banerjee. Jai Shri Ram is a slogan which is being exploited by the BJP as their (political) agenda…they always try to exploit the religious feelings of the Hindu population….I might have been very much opposed to Mamata Banerjee’s regime…she is our sworn rival…no doubt…but she happens to be the Chief Minister of Bengal and a lady as well. She was heckled. It was antithetical to the culture of Bengal,” he said.
Asked about the insider-outsider plank being pushed by the TMC, he said, “Outsider issue is also anti-democratic. Nobody could be called an outsider. Being an Indian, everybody is an insider… I do not support the slogans or issues raised by the TMC towards the BJP saying they are a party of outsiders.”
He said the agenda of the Left and the Congress is to restore the secular ethos of Bengal, the democratic environment of Bengal which has been trampled upon and to fight the communal forces. “Our single point agenda is to thwart the attempt of both BJP which we believe is a communal force and the forces of atrocities and autocracy..led by TMC,” he said.
On the launch of a party by Furfura Sharif Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, he said, “They are not communal forces like…AIMIM. They are religious leaders of a certain pocket of Bengal.”
So is there any possibility of the Congress having an electoral adjustment with Siddiqui, he said, “First of all, our condition should be that they have to keep themselves away from any kind of association with the AIMIM. Otherwise, they are very much acceptable… The person who you are referring to…he has been having a little political and electoral discussions with AIMIM also.”