It is perhaps difficult for any political party to maintain simultaneous rivalries and alliances with another. But as the Congress is proving, it is certainly not impossible. The party is engaged in a somewhat delicate balancing act as a slew of state assembly elections draw closer. You see, even as it lambasts the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala, the Congress is allied with many of the same parties in West Bengal.
The Congress may be campaigning vehemently against the CPI(M) and its allies in Kerala, but in the eastern state, the Left Front is a crucial ally. Not only that, the newly formed Indian Secular Front (ISF) led by Abbas Siddiqui has also joined the alliance.
And while the party appears to be sticking to the old adage about an enemy's enemy being a friend, many are not convinced. After all, if the Congress lawmakers in the southern state believe that Pinarayi Vijayan is one of the "most fascist and undemocratic" chief ministers Kerala has seen, one would assume that this was a party the Congress wanted nothing to do with.
And while BJP leaders including JP Nadda have cited this to accuse the Congress of double standards and ideological bankruptcy, it has for the most part been glossed over by the party's own leaders. Now, however, it would seem that ISF's inclusion has been a tipping point.
"Congress’ alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC," said Congress leader Anand Sharma on Monday.
Calling the endorsement in West Bengal "painful and shameful", he urged the West Bengal PCC President to clarify. "Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour," he added.
Notably, the former union minister had been a leader of the group of 23 that had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding organisational overhaul some time earlier.
West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, however, was unrepentant, urging Sharma to "know his facts" and issue a clarification. In a follow-up post, he explained that the seats allocated to the ISF were from the Left Front's share.
"CPI(M) led Left Front is leading the secular alliance in West Bengal of which Congress is an integral part. We are determined to defeat BJP's communal and divisive politics and an autocratic regime," he tweeted.
"Your choice to call the decision of CPM led front ‘communal’ is only serving the polarising agenda of BJP," he added.
But while the Congress may be skirting the topic, social media users and other parties have certainly had a lot to say about the party's political choices.
"Congress leaders are keen to attack the LDF. However, why do they not seem to be as keen, when it comes to taking the BJP head on? In fact, they'd rather avoid confronting them, but collude with them. No wonder today's Congress is tomorrow's BJP," tweeted Vijayan.
Many others have also questioned the alliance on social media platforms.