Ajith Vijay Kumar
Not taking kindly to Mamata Banerjee’s action of disclosing the names of Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari as first and second choices of Congress as the next President, an upset Congress party on Thursday appeared to have made up its mind to cut the TMC chief to size.
In an unusually strong and direct rebuttal, Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said the process of consultation (selection of UPA’s consensus candidate) was still on. And that in the process of Sonia Gandhi consulting all parties, two names had come up, but a choice had not been finalised.
"If Congress had decided on the name, two names would not have come up…there is a dignity to the process. When such talks are held, names are not discussed outside," he said.
The Congress seems to have gained strength to take on Mamata after its other allies like the DMK backed it. The chief party in the coalition also resents the way Mamata is trying to exert overt influence on the UPA leadership.
In a twin-pronged attack on Mamata, the Congress rejected all three names proposed by the duo. The party then also opened lines of communication with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Sing Yadav, who is staying put in Delhi on a day of intense political confabulations.
The Mulayam-Mamata (M+M) combination appears to be on the Congress’ radar, and would want the new alliance to die away before blossom.
The line of thought gained credence when Janardhan Dwivedi did not name Mulayam and chose to take on Mamata and rejected the three names suggested by the two.
As per reports, Mulayam would meet Sonia Gandhi soon. And, given the ease with which Mulayam has changed his stand in the past on several issues, he may very well decide to ditch Mamata and toe the Congress line.
For the start, Mulayam’s brother Ram Gopal Yadav has backed Pranab as his “personal choice”.
Mamata has clashed with the Congress party a number of times in the recent past, with each ending with the Congress giving in, especially on crucial economic policies as well as the Rail Budget.
Now that she has angered Sonia Gandhi by overstepping her brief, Mamata surely seems to have crossed the red line.
This time, the Congress is resolute to not capitulate in front of Mamata, but whether they can do without each other, only time will tell.