In a pointer to the emerging political realignment, the Congress today declined to comment on the Narada and Saradha scams, but said there was no need to read much into TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi holding a joint press conference on demonetization.
“There is nothing to read much into it. Many political parties have come together on the issue of demonetization. And on this issue, both the TMC and the Congress are on the same page,” Congress general secretary and national spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said. Ahmad, who had served as the party’s observer during the 2011 West Bengal Assembly polls, said, “We are running a government in Bihar as a coalition partner of the JD(U), but Nitish Kumar had earlier supported demonetization. So, does it mean that our alliance doesn’t exist? The same logic applies to Bengal as regards the relationship between the Congress and the TMC.”
On being asked to speak on the Narada and Saradha scandals, Ahmad declined to comment and said he would rather focus on demonetization. He also refused to give a reply to the question on why the Congress was willing to align with the TMC on demonetization and black money when the party’s Bengal unit has accused the TMC of being involved in the Narada and Saradha scams. “Our fight is against the personal corruption of Narendra Modi. There are several chief ministers in India who have corruption cases and allegations against them. We are not here to talk about them,” said the Congress leader.
Incidentally, Ahmad at the press conference was seated beside Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan whose PIL in the Supreme Court led to the CBI investigation in the Saradha scam. Ahmad said the party had not yet decided to hold any joint protest with the TMC on the issue of demonetization. His comments came only two days after Banerjee, along with Rahul Gandhi and leaders of other regional parties, sought to put up a united face against demonetization by demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The latest thaw in the ties comes as the Congress and the Left Front had struck up an alliance for this year’s West Bengal Assembly election, which Banerjee had termed as “unethical and immoral”.
The West Bengal chief minister yesterday extended her warm wishes and greetings to the members of the Congress on the party’s 132nd foundation day.