As several leaders from its fold joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the last few months, Congress has now decided to launch an all-out attack on the Mamata Banerjee-led party with its top leaders taking the charge.
Mamata's "there is no UPA" remark after a meeting in Mumbai with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, an ally of Congress in Maharashtra, evoked a strong response from the party, currently being led by interim president Sonia Gandhi.
At an event in Mumbai, the TMC chief said if all the regional parties come together then defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be very easy.
Trinamool Congress was once part of the UPA or United Progressive Alliance, an alliance of several parties including Congress that remained in power at the Centre for 10 years from 2004 to 2014 when the BJP came to power.
After the TMC's landslide victory in West Bengal Assembly polls held earlier this year, Mamata is continuously pitching for a strong alternative at the national level but indirectly taking on Congress.
In a seeming attempt at pan-national expansion or alliance with "like minded-parties" ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, she has recently visited Delhi and Mumbai where she held a series of meetings with top leaders of various political outfits.
However, she didn't meet Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi during her last visit. Interestingly, during her Delhi visit in July this year, Mamata Banerjee had met Congress interim Chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. According to sources in the Congress party, the decision to attack Mamata was taken at a meeting held on Wednesday night.
"There were discussions among the top leaders of Congress late night on Wednesday in which it has been decided that the party will now make big attacks against Mamata." Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha termed the meeting between Mamata Banerjee and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar as a "pre-meditated conspiracy" to weaken the grand old party and alleged the TMC chief had become "BJP's oxygen supplier."
So far from Congress, its leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was taking the lead in vehemently criticising the TMC chief as he has an old feud with her in West Bengal.
It may be noted that Congress and Left parties fought together in West Bengal Assembly polls against the TMC and the BJP.
Till now it has been the Congress' strategy that there should be scope to improve relations in the name of Opposition unity.
A section in the party has also been in favour of rapprochement with Mamata for a long time. Sources said that the responsibility of making political attacks on Mamata has been tasked to top leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Surjewala.
They added that the special responsibility to Digvijaya Singh was given because he had been openly advocating coordination with leaders who left Congress like, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Sharad Pawar and K Chandrasekhar Rao from the high command. Targeting the TMC chief, Youth Congress chief BV Srinivas wrote on Twitter, "Ask any question to Modi ji, you will be called a Deshdrohi..Ask any question to Mamta Di, you will be called a Maoist... What's the difference between both?"
Congress received a major jolt in Meghalaya after 12 of its MLAs out of 17 joined Trinamool Congress, making it the state's main Opposition.
One of the prominent figures of the new entrants includes former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma.
TMC has witnessed a steady stream of leaders joining its ranks after quitting from Congress in the last few months.
In September, former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro joined TMC after resigning from the primary membership of Congress.
Following Faleiro shift, nine other leaders from Congress also joined TMC, sources had informed.
Congress MP from Assam's Silchar and ex-president of All India Mahila Congress, Sushmita Dev had joined the TMC in August this year.
She has been assigned to look after TMC's affairs in Tripura.
Moreover, Luizinho Faleiro and Sushmita Dev both were awarded Rajya Sabha seats after joining TMC.
Congress leader Kirti Azad and former Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar also recently joined TMC. Tanwar was once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.