Amid tensions with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the Congress on Friday appointed A. Chella Kumar, who is looking party affairs in Odisha, as interim in charge of West Bengal.
The post was vacant since the exit of former Union Minister Jitin Prasada who has joined the BJP.
The Congress is very weak in the state, being wiped out in the Assembly polls where it could not even open its account. It has only one Lok Sabha member from the state, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
On the other hand, the Congress is facing tough challenge to retain its leaders even outside the state, with the Trinamool luring away Congress leaders in Goa, Assam, Bihar, and other states.
Banerjee has shown keen interest in national politics and expanding her party outside the state which is cause of concern, say Congress leaders and now the party wants to strengthen itself in the state and Chowdhury, who is also state President, has been given a free hand.
But, while the top Congress leadership is refraining from attacking Banerjee but she is not letting go of any chance to target the party, recently accusing it of behaving like a sluggish ‘zamindaar’, while doing nothing to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
With Banerjee’s party set to contest the coming Goa polls, Congress is uneasy as it fears this may hurt its prospects. However, party chief Sonia Gandhi does not want to antagonise Banerjee for the cause of opposition unity, though in winter session of Parliament, the Trinamool disassociated from the Congress.