In a significant development, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is leaning towards going solo in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, as per party officials.
Mamata Banerjee, the party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister, conveyed this decision during an organizational meeting in Birbhum district, emphasizing the need for preparations over seat-sharing negotiations.
The decision arises against the backdrop of a growing divide within the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc allies regarding seat allocation at the state level. As the 2024 elections draw near, opposition members, including Banerjee, are eager to finalize seat-sharing arrangements to present a unified front against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The TMC is expected to field candidates in all 42 constituencies in West Bengal, bypassing seat-sharing talks that have become a point of contention with the Congress. Banerjee criticized the Congress for delays and termed their demand for 10-12 Lok Sabha seats as unjustified, offering only two seats based on the party’s performance in the 2019 elections.
Banerjee hinted at a solo approach during a Solidarity March, suggesting that regional parties manage elections in their strongholds while urging the Congress not to assist the BJP. The alleged rift intensified as Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury labeled Banerjee an opportunist and asserted that Congress wouldn’t contest the election “at her mercy.”
However, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi dismissed Chowdhury’s criticism, stating that seat-sharing negotiations are ongoing, and Banerjee’s close relationship with the party remains intact.
Despite the turmoil, Banerjee skipped a crucial virtual meeting of the INDIA bloc on January 13, focusing on opposition unity strategy discussions, where Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge was appointed as the chief of the bloc.