Rahul Gandhi to meet top leaders.

As Congress president Rahul Gandhi prepares to meet the Congress leadership from West Bengal on Friday, the party is all set to witness an exodus with half-a-dozen of its MLAs and MPs expected to join the Trinamool Congress.

If one-fourth of the MLAs switch side, the Congress may lose the status of being an Opposition party in the State to the Left in case the rebels formally resign from the Congress. Twelve of the Congress’s 44 MLAs have already joined the Trinamool after the 2016 Assembly elections. Realising the gravity of the situation only months ahead of the national elections, Mr. Gandhi decided to meet all the senior leaders from the State.

But one person will be missing from the meeting: general secretary of state Congress Committee Omprakash Mishra, a senior leader who had played a key role in stitching together the Congress-Left alliance for the 2016 Assembly elections. Mr. Mishra was entrusted with putting together a similar coalition before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls about a month ago and he had even drafted a proposal for an alliance with the Left.

“Look how the list of invitees is drawn. MPs, MLAs, ex-MPs and ex-AICC secretaries can attend Friday’s meeting. This is done with the objective to drop Mishra who is none of the above,” said a senior Congress leader. Within the Congress, many feel that the Trinamool may completely decimate the Congress in its base Murshidabad and Malda districts by “luring” leaders away from those districts.

“A reason why the party may move closer to the TMC at the cost of the Left is to protect its base in these districts,” a former state Congress president said. A senior CPI-M leader said it is “not unlikely” that the Congress is planning to open a dialogue with the TMC.

Mr. Mishra said he was “out of Kolkata and can’t talk on phone.”

[With inputs from Soumya Das]

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