The Bengal Congress leaders included all Members of Parliament, MLAs and state in-charges.
New Delhi: Trying to stem his party’s declining fortunes in West Bengal compounded by speculation that some MLAs might switch over to the TMC, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday met around 40-45 leaders of the Bengal Congress individually and asked them their views on possible alliance partners as well as how to strengthen the party.
The Bengal Congress leaders included all Members of Parliament, MLAs and state in-charges. Among the various options discussed was whether to align with the Trinamul Congress, the Left Parties or go it alone.
The emergency meeting was called amid reports that a substantial section of Bengal Congress MLAs from its minority strongholds were likely to cross-over to the Trinamul Congress who they feel is better poised to fight the BJP which has grown phenomenally in the state.
Sources said that Congress Bengal unit was a deeply divided over the issue of alliance.
While a section of leaders, led by AICC Secretary and Farakka MLA Mainul Haque felt that it was best to align with the Trinamul Congress as the unofficial offer of six seats to fight for would ensure at least some Congress MPs land up in the Lok Sabha, others felt that it was better to go alone and focus on building the organisation in the state and still others, led by state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury felt that aligning with CPI(M) was a better option as has a dedicated cadre which the Congress can use.
Interestingly, MP Mausam Noor, the grand niece of legendary Congress leader ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhary who it is being widely speculated would be among those joining the TMC on July 21 was conspicuous by her absence. However, her uncle Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury, who is also an MP was present. Both Ms Noor and Mr Chowdhary represent the Maldah North and Maldah South constituencies, which are considered traditional Congress bastions.
West Bengal Congress in-charge Gaurav Gogoi, who was present during the one on one meetings with Mr Gandhi said that his priority was to strengthen the party so that it can talk to any future alliance partner on an equal basis.