The Congress on Sunday said it is up to the TMC to attend the meeting of opposition party leaders convened by it to discuss key issues to be taken up during the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it is a party tradition that the leader of opposition calls everyone ahead of every session. However, if anyone feels that by joining hands with the Congress they will be seen as opposing the government, they need not do so.
Mr Chowdhury's remarks came a day after the Trinamool Congress said it "most probably will not attend" the meeting called by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday morning, the first day of the Winter Session.
Mr Kharge has called the meeting to ensure unity and synergy among opposition parties during the session.
"Anyone who wishes to come (to the meeting) can come. If one does not want (to come), it is their wish. There is no compulsion. It is a tradition of Parliament and the Congress goes by that tradition," Mr Chowdhury said.
"It is our duty to call opposition parties to discuss the issues before (the) Parliament (session), but if they feel that by joining hands with us they will be seen as opposing the government, they need not do so. Those who do not want to fight the government may not attend," he said when asked about the TMC's decision.
"It is up to the TMC to attend or not," he added.
Mr Chowdhury said those who are in Opposition are invited for an exchange of views and to articulate the views of the Opposition in Parliament.
In the last session, too, the TMC had participated in such discussions and as a gesture of sobriety and courtesy, it has been invited again this time, he said.
Asked about TMC's stand, Mr Kharge told PTI, "We have talked to Derek O'Brien, who said they have a working committee meeting tomorrow (Monday) and most of their MPs would be busy there."
"Mr Sharad Pawar will also not be attending the opposition meeting tomorrow as he is busy with the wedding of a Shiv Sena MP's daughter," he said.
The TMC and the Congress have been growing distant of late, with the Mamata Banerjee-led party poaching the latter's leaders in several states in the recent past.
The Winter Session will conclude on December 23.