The Congress appeared remarkably unperturbed on a day when it lost 12 of 17 MLAs in Meghalaya to the Trinamool Congress, ceding the position of the state’s main opposition, as it capped a strategy meeting in Delhi on Thursday with a pledge to uphold unity among opponents of the ruling BJP.
“Under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, we discussed the coming parliament session. We have to raise a lot of issues in parliament. On 29th, we will raise the MSP (Minimum Support Price) and farmers’ issue,” senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said in a media briefing.
“We will raise inflation, petrol and diesel prices and Chinese incursions. We want a discussion on all these issues. We will coordinate with all other parties – Trinamool, and others to have a coordinated approach,” he said.
“We want opposition unity,” Mr Kharge said.
The assertion came on a day when the Trinamool – a spin-off of the Congress-led by Mamata Banerjee – took in former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and 11 other Congress MLAs in a huge coup for West Bengal’s ruling party in the northeast.
The Meghalaya MLAs submitted a letter to assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh around 10 pm on Wednesday, informing him of their change of status, sources said.
The development, which makes the Trinamool Congress the principal opposition party in the state, came a day after Congress leaders Kirti Azad and Ashok Tanwar as well as Pawan Varma, formerly of Janata Dal (United), joined the Trinamool Congress in Delhi in the presence of party chief Mamata Banerjee currently visiting the national capital.
Meghalaya is the latest state where the Trinamool Congress, in expansion mode over the last couple of months, has made an inroad. In Assam, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana, its inroad has been at the cost of the Congress.
The earlier Congress entrants in the party included late President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee; Sushmita Dev, the former Congress MP from Silchar and daughter of late Congress stalwart Santosh Mohan Dev.
Ms Banerjee, known to share a cordial relationship with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, has not met her this time, although there was a buzz about a meeting.
Asked about the matter, the Trinamool Congress chief flared up. She had sought no appointment with Sonia Gandhi, as “they are busy with Punjab polls”, Ms Banerjee said.
Then she pointedly added, “Why should we meet Sonia every time? It is not constitutionally mandated.”