Mamata Banerjee To Rahul Gandhi After Postponed INDIA Meet

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi (File).

New Delhi:

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Wednesday that Congress MP Rahul Gandhi reached out amid furore this week over the postponement of an INDIA bloc meeting, which seemed to underline a growing rift within a grouping meant to unite the opposition before next year’s election.

The postponement – coming after the Congress’ defeats in three state polls and reproaches from allies, including Ms Banerjee – reiterated the fragile nature of a coalition led, on paper, by the party.

READ | Congress Defers INDIA Alliance Meet After Top Leaders RSVP No

Speaking in Kolkata, Ms Banerjee said she told Rahul Gandhi she had not been made aware of the INDIA meet called for on Wednesday and could not adjust her schedule at the last minute. The Bengal leader also said she expects a new date soon and that “there is nothing to worry about…”

“… Rahulji called me. I told him nobody had told me about the meeting. I had my programme fixed and other chief ministers were also busy,” she said, pointing to Tamil Nadu’s MK Stalin, another key INDIA member, but who now has his hands full dealing with the fallout of Cyclone Michaung.

“But we will meet whenever they (the Congress) decide. Do not worry,” she said.

Her remarks echoed those she made earlier the day; “I am not aware about this (the meeting). That’s why I scheduled a programme in north Bengal. I have a seven-day programme. Had I known (about the INDIA meet) I would have surely gone for it…” the Trinamool leader had said.

READ | “Not Aware”: Mamata Banerjee To Skip Next INDIA Bloc Meet

The fiery Trinamool boss had RSVP-ed ‘no’ to the Congress’ invitation on Sunday, and that was followed, less than 24 hours later, by reports Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav would also skip the meeting, and only send representatives on their behalf.

Nitish Kumar, widely seen as one of INDIA’s founders, later said he had RSVP-ed ‘no’ as he had been unwell. “In the news it was said I was not going… How is that possible?” he chuckled, “How can it be I don’t attend? I had fever… will definitely go for the next meeting,” he said in Patna.

READ | “Had Fever, How Could I…?”: Nitish Kumar On Talk Of Skipping INDIA Meet

Nevertheless, the back-to-back-to-back, apparently, negative responses – by three of the bloc’s biggest leaders – meant the Congress seemed to have little choice but postpone the meet called by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge; the call was made just before it crashed to defeats in the three polls.

The meeting was expected to chalk out INDIA’s plans for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

The Congress has received flak from allies, not just over seat-sharing squabbles that may have dented its results in last month’s polls but also over its insistence that prep work for the 2024 Lok Sabha election – the reason INDIA was formed – be put on hold till it is free to lead the planning.

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