‘Dismayed by good friend Mamata’s decision to abstain’ | India News

You’ve called the Vice President’s polls a referendum on the activity of Parliament. Isn’t this a referendum on the activities of the opposition parties and their declaration of unity?
I have repeatedly said Parliament is for discussion and consensus building. When you do not allow debate, members use other means to be heard. There’s no point in saying the opposition is messing with Parliament. The Business Advisory Committee including government and opposition representatives. People were surprised that the BAC could not find common ground even on the agenda for discussion.
That said, the VP polls are also a challenge for parties in the opposition. I agree that it would be more satisfying if more parties supported the general opposition candidate. But whatever their reasons, some are hesitant to join the opposition. Let (Director of TMC) Mamata (Banerjee), for example. She has been my good friend since her teenage years Conference day. I fought for her, supported her and stood by her side in every battle… I was surprised and dismayed when TMC decided to back out. There is no whip in this election and it is a secret ballot. If you can’t whip how can you tell your MPs not to vote? It’s like emitting a negative whip. This is the moment for all opposition parties, especially for someone like Mamata, who has led this opposition unification campaign, to challenge. BJP. More than that because she had to bear the brunt of the BJP’s handling Bengali. For the TMC to be neutral at this point is really a referendum on what the opposition parties are doing. I still hope and pray they change their minds.
I believe you called her but she won’t answer…
She didn’t pick up the phone. I wrote her a letter. And people talked to her. All our phones are tapped… So don’t hesitate to talk. But the bigger question is how does TMC help BJP? Mamata has been working hard to meet the leaders of all the anti-BJP parties. So I don’t understand why she would do this.
Wwhen you say that Banerjee is expected to lead the opposition unity bid, do you think her reluctance to join the bloc might be because Congress won’t give in to the center space? Other parties have also expressed this concern.
When you talk about unity of the opposition, the leadership will go to the party with the largest number of seats in the National Assembly. No one said who should lead. Everyone says that in each state, regardless of the difference, there is give and take of some kind, there must be an adjustment.
Also, one person may be very powerful in Bengal, but does one have an all-India scope? The rest may be strong in Kerala, but they lost in Tripura and Bengal. How can you draw a line for everyone? You have to give up space somewhere and fight it elsewhere. No one is excluding anyone for leadership positions. You may not be the biggest party member, but everyone wants you to be on top.
OLDConsidering the VP polls are a multifaceted battle to begin with, what message is the opposition trying to convey?
We are focusing on issues not only of the political opposition, but also of the citizens involved. I have been in public life for 50 years. What we see today is a complete weakening of the functioning of parliament. I think that parliament is not about totalitarianism. Our concern is that Parliament is not allowed to function the way it is supposed to and we say this needs to be fixed. One way to do this is to have a neutral, tough, accommodating, and experienced president to bring everyone together.

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