Did the Arrest of Two CMs Unite Opposition, What Does TMC’s Statement Mean for INDIA Alliance?

Addressing the ‘Save Democracy Rally’, TMC's Derek O'Brien said his party was, is and will remain a part of the (Congress-backed) INDIA block.
Derek O'Brien
Derek O'Brien

New Delhi: Did Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien’s statement, which he made during his address at the ‘Save Democracy Rally’ held at Ramlila Maidan in the national capital on March 31, reflect a change in the stand of his party after the arrest of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal or is it just a statement? can only be guessed at this time.

“TMC was, is and will remain a part of the (Congress-backed) INDIA alliance,” he told the audience at the mega rally organised by Opposition parties against the arrest of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on flimsy corruption charges and alleged misuse of Central investigating agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Income Tax (I-T) department and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).   

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party, the TMC, has decided to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections alone from all 42 parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal; whereas, it has been a part of the INDIA block since the beginning.

When one attempts to understand Derek’s statement in light of what Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said, many new meanings emerge.

The veteran Congress leader said at the end of his speech, “First learn to be united, don’t learn to tear each other down…”

However, the 80-year-old Congress leader also said that there is diversity in the alliance but the Opposition parties are together for bigger objectives. Pointing towards Left party leaders D Raja and Sitaram Yechury, who were present on the stage, he said the Congress fights against the Left in Kerala but the two parties together for bigger purposes.

He also said the same for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which too is going solo in Punjab. Despite all efforts, no agreement could be reached between the two parties in the state.

Even at Ramlila Maidan, AAP and Congress workers were seen standing in different groups. Yellow T-shirts and caps of AAP workers were seen in abundance in the ground and its workers and supporters were seen distributing water and showing the way to the people. Among them too, the participation of Punjab is more than Delhi. Many were from different villages of Barnala district. We met a few workers from Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu as well.

'Arrest Could Not Put Pressure on Opposition’

“If the Narendra Modi government had thought that Kejriwal’s arrest in the alleged scam in the now-defunct Delhi excise policy would put pressure on the Opposition, the attendance of the rally at least does not suggest so,” the participants from South India told The Mooknayak.

Political parties from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Maharashtra and Bihar were seen united in protesting against the arrest of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Arvind Kejriwal. The Ramlila Maidan was filled to capacity.

This program of opposition unity in Delhi took place on the same day when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the election trumpet of his party (the BJP) from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

Kharge described the BJP and ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as “poison” and asked people not to even try to taste it by licking it because that too can be fatal.

After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, he is one among the few big Congress leaders who has directly mentioned the RSS in this way.

Rahul Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah Raised Electoral Bonds Issue

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Rahul Gandhi claimed in their own ways that the Constitution is under threat.

The Congress leader alleged that the Modi government, in collaboration with the Election Commission and other institutions, is trying to conduct this entire election like a “fixed match”. He said the BJP's goal is to completely change the Constitution.

However, he made it clear that such an attempt would not be successful because it would create a danger of disintegration of the country.

Abdullah, in his speech, mentioned that more than 600 lawyers had written a letter to the Chief Justice (DY Chandrachud), accusing him of tarnishing the image of the judiciary.

These lawyers shot off the letter after the highest court of the country declared electoral bonds “unconstitutional” and ordered the bond issuing lender, the State Bank of India (SBI), to make public all information related to the purchase of the bonds.

As the data was published on the Election Commission's website, it turned out that BJP is the biggest beneficiary of the bonds. Many companies, which were under investigations of the Central probing agencies, donated to the BJP following raids and arrests. Many companies were awarded government contracts after they made donations to the BJP through electoral bonds.

Sunita Kejriwal’s Promises on behalf of Kejriwal

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, while talking about the reaction of Germany, the United States and the United Nations on arrests of Soren and Kejriwal, said the ED’s selective action against the Opposition has insulted India before the world.

Uddhav Thackeray, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and head of Shiv Sena, which was once an ally of the BJP, talked about a coalition government.

Reading out a letter by her husband, Sunita Kejriwal promised everything from free electricity to the poor to giving full statehood to Delhi if the INDIA alliance government comes to power.

She said she hopes that other allies will not feel bad about these promises made by the Delhi chief minister without consultation of alliance partners.

She claimed Kejriwal has prepared a complete outline from where the money to be spent to fulfill these promises will come from.

She appeared more confident than ever in the address, which was her third direct interaction with people in the last one week.

Visible Absence of SP, Cong Workers

In the same Ramlila Maidan, in 2010-2011, Arvind Kejriwal, social activist Anna Hazare and others had staged a protest and fast unto death against alleged corruption, targeting the then Congress government headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The influence of Congress workers was limited to the crowd. Even AAP workers who were providing water to people. No volunteer of the Akhilesh-led Samajwadi Party (SP) was seen despite the fact that Uttar Pradesh is adjacent to Delhi.

The Opposition unity is still apparently not strengthened. The election month has started, and the mandate will not only be to a party or coalition to form the government, it will also decide the survival of the Opposition.

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