Kolkata, July 2, 2022- Soon after assuming charge as the Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary following the 2021 West Bengal assembly elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee said that henceforth his party will target expansion in those states where it will have the chance to form the government or be an extremely strong opposition.
He added that henceforth the party’s focus will not be on just getting a couple of MLAs in a couple of states outside West Bengal.
Since then, Abhishek Banerjee has tried to achieve this thrice — the assembly elections in Goa, municipal elections in Tripura and the latest in the by-polls in Tripura. In the Goa assembly elections the Trinamool Congress was unable to open its account. In the Tripura civic elections, it failed to emerge as the major opposition party. In the Tripura by-polls the Trinamool Congress candidates finished in the fourth position in all the four assembly constituencies with their deposits forfeited. In two constituencies the votes secured by the party candidates did not cross the 1,000-mark.
In this backdrop two questions arise. The first is how far the Trinamool Congress will be able to expand its base outside West Bengal in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls? The second is how far Mamata Banerjee can become a key player in deciding matters in the ruling or opposition coalition, depending on the results, after 2024?
According to Trinamool Congress spokesman Kunal Ghosh, the latest by-poll results in Tripura cannot be taken as an indicator for the future considering that the party contested without much groundwork. Secondly, according to him, the Lok Sabha polls are always different from the assembly or civic polls, with bigger national issues.
“Since our chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already established herself as the face of a relentless movement against the Union government’s anti-people policies, no anti-BJP force would be able to undermine her in 2024,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari has said that it would be better for Mamata Banerjee to concentrate on saving her chief minister’s chair rather than trying to be a key player in the ruling coalition after the 2024 polls.
“The game has begun with Maharashtra. We will reach West Bengal via Rajasthan and Jharkhand in 2023,” he said.
Political observers feel that there is a remote chance that Mamata Banerjee or the Trinamool Congress would be able to get established as key national players be it in the ruling coalition or in the opposition front.
According to political observer Rajagopal Dhar Chakraborty, Abhishek Banerjee’s announcement that his party will target expansion in those states where they will have a chance to emerge as the ruling party or an extremely strong opposition, was an over ambitious one.
“Trinamool Congress earlier managed to get MLAs in Tripura and later in Meghalaya. However, none of these MLAs were elected as Trinamool Congress candidates. They were just turncoat MLAs from the Congress or other regional parties, who at the first opportunity deserted the Trinamool.
“But when it came to contesting in states outside West Bengal, the results for the Trinamool have been pathetic. That is because the Trinamool Congress contested those elections without prolonged groundwork just depending on vote strategist Prashant Kishor and his organization I-PAC. No vote strategist can do wonders for any political party in any state unless that party has a sufficient and strong organizational network of its own in that state,” he said.
Secondly, he added, considering the Trinamool Congress’s pathetic performance in states outside West Bengal, it is unlikely that regional parties there will allow space to the Trinamool in any seat sharing agreement, however close their official relationship with Mamata Banerjee might be.
Political analyst Santanu Sanyal feels that before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool Congress will be so busy in its own turf of West Bengal that it will hardly have any opportunity to concentrate on other states.
“The Trinamool Congress leadership including the chief minister knows quite well that their importance in national politics, be it be as a part of the ruling coalition or the opposition front, will depend on how well the party can perform in West Bengal. So, in my opinion, in the 2024 polls the Trinamool Congress’ concentration will be solely on West Bengal and not on other states,” he said. (Agency)