Why Rahul Gandhi didn’t campaign in first 4 phases? Bengal Congress didn’t need his services, says party’s observer | India News – Times of India


With Congress’s in-charge of West Bengal Jitin Prasada contracting COVID-19, the party sent senior leader BK Hariprasad as the senior observer to the state for the ongoing assembly elections. Claiming that the Congress will spring a surprise in the state polls, he defended party’s senior leader Rahul Gandhi for not campaigning in the first four phases of the elections saying it was the state unit of the party’s strategy. He said in case the Samyukta Morcha, which includes the Left, Congress and the Indian Secular Front (ISF), wins the maximum number of seats in a hung assembly, party president Sonia Gandhi will talk to the MLAs and the PCC before taking a call on seeking the support of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) for government formation. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Assembly elections in West Bengal started on March 27. The fourth phase was held on April 10. The next phases would be held on April 17, 22, 26 and 29. Why did Congress’s star campaigner Rahul Gandhi campaign for the first time so late on April 14?
A: It is as per the strategy of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC). They wanted Rahul ji to campaign in the last four phases. He is strategically needed more now.
Q: What was the thought behind introducing Rahul Gandhi in West Bengal so late in the day?
A: The Congress is contesting 92 of the 294 seats. We are fighting as one of the alliance partners of the Samyukt Morcha (Joint Front). Moreover, the Congress’s strongholds are included in the fifth phase onwards. The constituencies such as Maldah, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur are the Congress’s strongholds. This is the reason why Rahul ji has started campaigning before the fifth phase of election.
Q: While the Left is the Congress’s main rival in Kerala, it is the senior ally in West Bengal. Had Rahul Gandhi campaigned with the Left in West Bengal, it would have helped the CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala. Was this the reason behind Rahul skipping West Bengal till Kerala went to polls on April 6, the day West Bengal was voting for the third phase?
A: The ideology of the Left may be the same in Kerala and West Bengal but the political character of the two states is different. West Bengal is a manufacturing state where trade unions are quite strong.
Secondly, our stakes in Kerala are higher than in West Bengal. The LDF is the Congress’s main opponent as the BJP hardly has any presence. But West Bengal is witnessing a triangular contest between the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the BJP and the Left-led Samyukta Morcha. The Left, which is contesting 200 seats, is our senior partner. We wanted the Congress-led UDF in Kerala to remain intact.
The BJP should question their international leader who campaigned in Bangladesh. Why did his party not field candidates on all the seats in Tamil Nadu if he is immensely popular?
Q: Rahul Gandhi campaigned against the Left in Kerala. However, he would have been seen standing alongside the Left in West Bengal. He would have been accused of following double standards. Was this the reason behind Rahul choosing not to campaign in West Bengal?
A: Even the BJP had the TMC as its NDA partner at the Centre. And now they are fighting against each other? Isn’t it double standards? We are not the only people to follow all rules.
Basically, the WBPCC wanted us to forge an alliance with the Left. However, the Kerala PCC (KPCC) wanted us to contest against them. The WBPCC did not need Rahul ji’s services till the first four phases. We are a democratic party. Hence, we followed whatever the WBPCC and KPCC suggested.
In short, we go by the recommendations of our PCCs.
Q: Is the Samyukta Morcha coming to power in West Bengal?
A: Yes, our alliance is coming to power.
Q: Who is your main rival – the TMC or the BJP?
A: At some places, it is the TMC and at others, it is the BJP.
Q: As you claim that the Samyukta Morcha would win the elections, then which party would come second?
A: The TMC would become the main opposition party after the results of the West Bengal elections would be declared. On the national level, the BJP is our main rival whereas on the state level, the TMC is our main opponent. However, let me add that both the parties are two sides of the same coin.
Q: In case the West Bengal elections throw a hung assembly, will the Congress extend support to the TMC? WBPCC president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has indicated that it is possible when he said that “politics is the art of possible”.
A: It is a hypothetical question. And I am not aware of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s remarks. Therefore, I would not like to comment on that.
Q: If the Samyukta Morcha becomes the single largest group in a hung assembly, will it seek the support of TMC?
A: In that case, Congress president Sonia Gandhi ji will consult all the MLAs and the WBPCC. Subsequently, she will take a call.
Q: On what basis do you think the Samyukt Morcha would win in West Bengal?
A: Basically the media has created a perception that the contest is between the TMC and the BJP. But in reality the state is witnessing a triangular fight. The TMC and the BJP are very good at marketing themselves while the Congress is good at campaigning. The results will prove this.

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