Congress’ Bengal leader warns again aligning with Left

Kolkata, July 14 (IANS) Revealing fresh fissures in the Congress’ West Bengal unit, its former state chief Manas Bhunia on Tuesday issued a veiled warning that he would leave the party if it aligned with the Left.

Bhunia also praised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, providing further fodder to rumour mills that he was considering a switch over to her Trinamool Congress.

With a section of Congress leaders suggesting an alliance with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front to take on the Trinamool in next year’s assembly polls, Bhunia said he was strongly opposed to any such move.

“We suffered immense torture during the 24 years of Left front rule (1877-2011). I’m stunned at the suggestions given by some leaders to hold CPI-M and Left Front’s hands. This is just not done. I am opposing it with all my strength,” he said.

The former minister said if any Congress leader thinks of taking such a line or if the party follows such a policy, “then Manas Bhunia will have to think whether he will remain in the Congress”.

Bhunia was minister for small scale industries, irrigation and textiles in the Trinamool-Congress coalition ministry that took over the reins of the state with Banerjee as chief minister after the 2011 assembly polls.

The coalition ended after the Congress ministers resigned from the state cabinet on September 22, 2012, after the Trinamool withdrew its support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) central government.

Bhunia recalled that his party had fought the 2009 ALok Sabha polls and the 2011 assembly elections partnering the Trinamool.

“In the coming days if the Congress and the Trinamool want to come together to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party, in such a situation, why will Trinamool be regarded as untouchable? I can’t understand.

“Isn’t there some ideological differences between fighting alongside Trinamool against the BJP and fighting alongside the leftists?” he asked.

Bhunia regretted that though the party won 42 seats in 2011 when he was Pradesh Congress chief, the number has now dwindled to 31. He had quit as state president in deference to the party’s one-man-on-post policy after he became a minister.

“Congressmen are very sad. Heavyweights and ordinary workers are leaving in large numbers. The latest episode is that of our veteran and strong leader Rabindranath Chattopadhyay, our pillar in Burdwan.

“We couldn’t stand by him in his troubles,.. with tears in his eyes he joined Trinamool.”

Bhunia lauded Banerjee for her frequent district administrative meetings. “This is a very good initiative.”

The Congress leader, who is known for his good equations with the chief minister, also had good words for her for the way she helped him during his ministerial stint.

“When I was minister in her cabinet, the honourable chief minister helped me a lot. She always encouraged me. She never withheld any of the files. She used to sign the files the way they were sent”.


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