As Mamata Banerjee’s TMC turns 24, political party targets national stage

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Banerjee’s clear call for opposition unity to remove the BJP from power hasn’t stopped her from expanding her center-left party into various states. In the past six months, his party has opened units in Goa, Haryana, Tripura and Meghalaya.

Calcutta: Twenty-four years after Mamata Banerjee formed the Trinamool Congress on January 1, 1998 to overthrow the ruling Left Front in West Bengal, her party has transcended the geographic borders of the Eastern State and is now attempting to expand its footprint across the country to pose a direct challenge to the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

With the national opposition crumbling, the TMC, which Banerjee launched after leaving Congress, is trying to seize this space by defying the big old party, calling it “war weary” and accusing it of not to have fought against the BJP.

At the same time, the party is positioning itself as the “real Congress” and the only formation to oppose tooth and nail to the saffron camp, after its landslide victory in this year’s legislative elections in West Bengal despite the massive BJP campaign. to overthrow her from Power.

With the aim of projecting the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the main face of the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the TMC is on a rebranding overdrive, inducting people from diverse geographic and political backgrounds, advocating to change the party constitution, and its name for a pan -India is appealing before embarking on a massive national campaign for the 2024 elections in Lok Sabha.

Banerjee’s clear call for opposition unity to remove the BJP from power hasn’t stopped her from expanding her center-left party into various states. In the past six months, his party has opened units in Goa, Haryana, Tripura and Meghalaya.

The party, which hardly had a significant existence in the Meghalaya, became the main opposition party in the northeastern state after 12 of the 17 congressional deputies led by former chief minister Mukul Sangma joined the TMC.

In neighboring Tripura, the party aims to challenge the ruling BJP, although the Saffron Party has swept up recent civic polls in the state.

As part of its national expansion strategy, the TMC inducted Bihar Congress leader and former BJP MP Kirti Azad, former JD (U) MP Pawan Verma, former Congress leader Haryana Ashok Tanwar, Delhi-based RTI activist Saket Gokhale, former Congressman Mahila Chief Sushmita Dev, former Goa Chief Minister Luizhino Falerio, former Union Minister Babul Supriyo, among others.

“The TMC wants to shed its regional party label. None of these recently inducted leaders are mass leaders, but each has their own identity and strength. These inductions are part of our national expansion so that we have a pan-Indian appeal and a holistic view before formulating the Lok Sabha 2024 poll strategy, ”a senior party leader told PTI.

The party decided to change its constitution and expand its central committee to accommodate more new inductees from various backgrounds.

“The TMC is undergoing a qualitative and quantitative change under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee to become the main opposing force by 2022. We will be the real Congress. Many proposals are being discussed on how to emerge as that Talks are underway with potential allies in various states opposed to the BJP, ”Verma told PTI.

TMC sources said the party wants to create its identity without having to carry the “baggage” of being an offshoot of Congress, and also promote the “Bengal development model” against the “Gujarat model. Presented by the BJP onwards. of the 2014 elections in Lok Sabha.

“Over the past 10 years, the TMC, through its time in government, has created a niche where our development policies have not only gained national and international recognition, but have been followed by other states as well. We want to replicate the Bengal model nationwide, ”said West Bengal party secretary general Kunal Ghosh.

The party is also considering changing its official name from All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) to something that has national appeal and is easier to connect with the masses, while remaining true to its roots.

“Discussions are underway to change the name of the party but nothing is finalized yet,” said TMC deputy Sougata Roy.

Born out of the womb of Congress in 1998, the TMC defeated the powerful Left Front in 2011, after two failed attempts in 2001 and 2006. This is not the first time the party has attempted to expand nationwide . Also in 2012, he had opened several units in the northeastern states, which had to be disbanded after party leaders switched to BJP or the big old party.

But this time around, the TMC has poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his I-PAC with him, with whom he extended the contract until 2026. Kishor had played a key role in securing the party’s victory in the legislative elections this time around. year.

Kishor has held meetings between Banerjee and other opposition leaders, and also plays an important role in inducting leaders from diverse backgrounds, party sources said.

The recent launch of salvos by TMC against Congress and the Gandhi family is part of its narrative of creating a distinct identity in national politics as an opposition party to the BJP without having to play the role of second fiddle to the great old party, they said.

“In national politics, you can see several regional parties playing the second fiddle role in Congress. The big old party has failed, it is an exhausted force. We want to create our own identity,” Ghosh said.

As part of its image-building exercise, the TMC offers country-specific campaigns projecting Banerjee as a leader associated with “inclusiveness and good governance”.

“The image-building exercise has two sides. One is to shape Banerjee’s image as a self-taught politician who comes from an apolitical background, who is not a product of dynasty politics. and which shows her humble origins how she gave lessons to students and worked in milk barracks. Several films and documentaries in several languages ​​are in preparation, “said a party leader.

“The second facet is to project the pro-democracy credentials of the TMC, which took a hit because of the panchayat election violence of 2018. We want to create the image of a party that does not support violence and promotes elections free and fair, ”he said. .

The BJP and Congress, however, ridiculed TMC’s national ambitions, calling them “dwarf dreams to reach for the skies.”

“The TMC has no ideology. Its ideology is to poach leaders of other parties to gain ground. It did it in West Bengal and now wants to replicate that Bengal model across the country. political will not. deliver results, “said Congress leader Lok Sabha and state party chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Echoing him, BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh said the TMC’s national ambitions would fall flat in 2024.

“There is a saying that goes that dwarf always dreams of touching the sky. It’s the same for TMC and its national ambitions. We saw it in 2014 and 2019,” he said.

Political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty, however, said that the TMC has “enormous potential” to emerge as a national opposition force, but that it must first rectify its image, especially when it comes to democracy and Corruption.

“There is a huge void in the national opposition space. It may take time, but the TMC has enormous potential to fill it,” he added.


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