The Trinamool Congress announced on Thursday that its members would not vote in the August 6 Vice-Presidential election. The decision was made at a meeting of MPs at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence.
“Because of the manner in which the Opposition candidate [Margaret Alva of the Congress] was decided without proper consultation and deliberation with a party that has 35 MPs in both Houses, we have unanimously decided to abstain from the voting process,” Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee told journalists after the meeting.
He claimed that nearly 85 percent of MPs urged party chairperson Banerjee not to run in the election.
The Congress and Left parties accused the Trinamool leadership of acting as a shill for the BJP. Banerjee played a key role in fielding a joint Opposition candidate for the Presidential election, convening a meeting of Opposition parties, including the Congress, in New Delhi to choose a candidate.
What makes the Trinamool’s decision even more intriguing is that the party is not registering its opposition to National Democratic Alliance candidate Jagdeep Dhankhar, who had frequent run-ins with the Trinamool leadership, particularly the Chief Minister, as West Bengal Governor.
Mr. Abhishek, on the other hand, stated that questions of tacit support for him did not arise.
“In his capacity as Governor, Dhankhar acted in a partisan manner at the direction of one political party.” We have all witnessed his constant attacks on Bengalis over the last three years. “We all agreed that we would not support the NDA candidate,” he said.
When asked if the decision would have an impact on Opposition unity, he stated that in order to maintain it, one must rise above ego and self-interest. “Opposition unity is dependent on more than just voting in Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections.” To maintain Opposition unity, you must rise above ego and self-interest. We can do floor coordination in Parliament and take to the streets to unite the opposition, but we must change our approach. “We are always willing to collaborate with anti-BJP parties,” he added.
The Trinamool leader insisted that the party was opposed to the process of selecting an Opposition candidate “without consulting them.”