Six weeks ago, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee were at the same press meet outside Sharad Pawar's house in New Delhi when she called for a pre-poll alliance. On January 19, the Congress sent two leaders to the Mahagathbandhan rally that Mamata hosted in Kolkata.
But on Saturday, in his first campaign rally in West Bengal, Rahul attacked Mamata in the same breath as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing her of doing nothing for the people and her party of targeting Congress workers.
The Congress president did not once take her name, but he did mention Mamata and PM Modi in the same breath. "Did your youth get employment and did your farmers receive any help? While Narendra Modiji lies on the one hand, your Chief Minister keeps making promises on the other. But eventually, nothing happens," Rahul said at Chanchole.
Speaking at the rally, he accused the Mamata Banerjee government of being "no better" than the previous Left Front one. "Bengal is being run by just one person. She neither talks to anyone nor takes anybody's suggestion. She does whatever she feels like," he said. "Does Bengal not have any voice? Should one person be allowed to run an entire state?"
Trinamool Congress rebuffed his comments.
“Rahul is wasting his time here. He should go to other states and fight against the BJP,” said Firhad Hakim, minister in the Mamata Banerjee government.
Meanwhile, twenty-one years after officially separating from the Congress, TMC has removed the grand old party's name from its logo.
The new logo has Trinamool written in green with twin flowers and blue background. It has been in use for a week now, party sources said. The Congress name has been dropped from party banners, posters and all communication material.
However, it will remain registered with the Election Commission as Trinamool Congress, party sources said.
The unusual exchange comes at a time when Congress party is struggling to forge an opposition alliance to fight a looming election, improving Modi's chances of a second term.
Voting begins on April 11 and will be spread over several phases until May 19 to cover the country involving more than 900 million voters, and the count will be made on May 23.