Kolkata: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had faced interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sleuths for over 50 hours spread over five days in the last two weeks in the National Herald case.
However, the leadership of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, which is otherwise quite vocal about alleged excesses by central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED, maintained a studied silence on the prolonged questioning of Rahul Gandhi.
Instead, a loaded statement has come from Trinamool Congress’s state general secretary and party spokesman, Kunal Ghosh when he said his party is indifferent on this issue.
The silence on this issue coupled with Ghosh’s statement has appeared quite perplexing as party supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants to project a kingmaker image in her efforts to unite the opposition parties and also form a consensus on this use of central agencies by the Narendra Modi- led Union government.
This has raised certain questions in political circles. Is this reaction or non-reaction of the Trinamool Congress just reciprocating the earlier stance of the Congress leadership in West Bengal when they welcomed the ED and the CBI questioning Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee? Is it because unlike his mother Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi does not give much importance to the Trinamool Congress in his roadmap for opposition space? Or is it a calculated step to fulfil the ambition of Mamata Banerjee to slowly occupy the Congress’s leadership position in the Opposition.
State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, however, does not want to give much importance either to the Trinamool Congress’s silence or its leader’s statement. According to him, it has been a continuous effort of the Trinamool Congress to weaken the Congress, be it in West Bengal or elsewhere. “This is despite the fact that without the Congress’s support the Trinamool Congress would not have been able to end the 34-year Left Front rule in West Bengal in 2011. We in the Congress are capable enough to fight our own battle against these autocratic steps of the Union government,” he said.
The CPI(M) leadership, which has vehemently criticized Rahul Gandhi’s marathon grilling by the ED, feels that the silence of the Trinamool Congress leadership is yet another proof of an underhand understanding between the ruling parties at the Centre and the state. According to the party’s central committee member Sujan Chakraborty, this is yet another example of the Trinamool Congress playing the role of a loyal opposition.
Political analysts, however, feel that this silence is a result of a combination of several factors. According to political analyst Rajagopal Dhar Chakroborty, the “snake and the mule” relationship between Mamata Banerjee and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has had some role in this silence or even loaded statements by a section of the Trinamool Congress leadership like Kunal Ghosh.
“However, what I feel is that the fact that for Rahul Gandhi, the Trinamool Congress, or to be precise any regional party, does not have much importance, unlike his mother Sonia Gandhi. Remember, Rahul Gandhi’s adverse comments against the regional parties at the Congress’s last Chintan Shivir at Udaipur. There he clearly said that in most cases the regional parties lack credibility and hence are not trustworthy. This can be a major reason for the silence on the part of the Trinamool Congress or any other regional party,” he said.
Another city-based political analyst, Arundhati Mukherjee feels that this silence is a calculated step to fulfil the ambition of Mamata Banerjee to slowly occupy the Congress’s leadership position in the opposition space. “That is why, while on the one hand she is trying to get cozy with regional parties like the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh or the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar or the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana, on the other hand she is maintaining a distance from the Congress and in some states even enticing rebel Congress leaders to join the Trinamool Congress. But remember that will not be an easy task. The other regional parties will pamper the Trinamool Congress only to the extent that Mamata Banerjee proves to be beneficial for them in the national sphere. But surely like Mamata Banerjee, the supremos of all regional parties too have national aspirations. It is doubtful how far the other regional parties will accept the Trinamool Congress as the leader of any national opposition coalition,” she said.