For the second time in two days, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Director Mamata Banerjee has raised concerns over the BJP’s use of the horse trader after the election in case the difference in numbers of seats between the two parties would be slim.
This refocused attention on Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s statement yesterday on the chances of supporting Mamata Banerjee if needed after May 2. Mr Chowdhury had denied this possibility, but agreed, saying, “Politics is the art of the possible. Anything can happen.”
Speaking at a rally at Domjur in Howrah on Thursday, Ms Banerjee said: “They have so much money. They are buying everyone. Many political leaders have already been bought. Many traitors and Mir Jaffars have bought . They say you need the money. “Take this. Don’t campaign. Or they give money and say pay back later, i.e. come with BJP later. It is not the culture of Bengal. “
In Cooch Behar on Wednesday, she said: “There is no point in winning my seat alone. My vote is over. I will win. Wherever I am, I will win. But I cannot form a government if I win alone. . Out of 294 seats, I need a minimum of 200. We have to go through 200. Otherwise, the BJP will give money and buy out traitors. “
As Mamata Banerjee implements a post-election strategy in the event of a slim victory, could Adhir Chowdhury’s statement signal a ray of hope? During a meeting with the press at the Kolkata Press Club on Wednesday, the congressional leader of Bengal was asked, if Trinamool needed help forming a government, would Congress help?
“I have no answer to the hypothetical questions. We are fighting to capture Secretary of State Nabanna. Mamata Banerjee has lost. I don’t know where she will go. It may be that when we capture the Secretariat, Mamata Banerjee can call on Samyukta Morcha to save himself, ”Chowdhury said, adding:“ Politics is the art of the possible, whatever happens ”.
The question was: will Congress help Trinamool form a government in Bengal if necessary? Adhir Chowdhury is such a fervent critic of Mamata Banerjee that the expected response was an unequivocal ‘Never’.
The fact that he said what he did – that politics is the art of the possible – sparked so much speculation that he might have meant yes, the party issued an angry retort, calling this interpretation of false news.
Pradip Bhattacharjee, congressman, said: “Politics is the art of the possible is theoretical, utopian. The situation right now is so fluid that no conclusion by any political party or person.”
The absence of star congressional activists in Bengal so far has also floated the tongue over the true position of Congress on Trinamool. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigned extensively in Kerala and Assam. Why not Bengal? Is it because of a weakness for Mamata Banerjee in certain quarters of Congress not shared by Adhir Chowdhury? Congress says Rahul Gandhi will come to the strongholds of Malda and Murshidabad who will vote in later phases.
Meanwhile, since I wrote to Sonia Gandhi about the need for opposition unity against the BJP, Mamata’s tirade against Congress has abated. In the past, it blew up the three partners of Samyukta Morcha – the left, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front – with the same vehemence. But lately her anger has been specifically reserved for the ISF which she accused of trying to divide the minority vote that has traditionally accompanied the Trinamool Congress.
On May 2, if Trinamool and BJP emerge neck and neck, congressional insiders admit that the party will have no choice, along with the left, but to support Trinamool. But critics of the BJP say it may already be reaching out to candidates with offers too good to turn down. This claim was dismissed by the BJP as a sour grape affair.