Political party

As Mamata Banerjee’s TMC turns 24, a political party targets the national scene

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

Kolkata: Twenty-four years after Mamata Banerjee formed the Trinamool Congress on January 1, 1998 to overthrow the Left Front from power in West Bengal, her party has transcended the geographical boundaries of the eastern state and is now trying 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 in shambles, the TMC, which Banerjee launched after leaving Congress, is trying to grab that space by challenging the big old party, calling it “war-weary” and the accusing him of failing to fight the BJP.

Meanwhile, the party is positioning itself as the ‘real Congress’ and the only outfit to oppose the saffron camp tooth and nail, following its landslide victory in this year’s parliamentary elections in West Bengal despite massive BJP campaigning to overthrow her with Power.

In a bid to project West Bengal’s Chief Minister as the main face of opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the TMC is on a rebranding overdrive, inducting people from diverse geographies and political backgrounds, advocating for change the party’s constitution, and its name for a pan-India call before embarking on a massive nationwide campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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

The party, which had little significant existence in Meghalaya, became the main opposition party in the northeastern state after 12 out of 17 Congress MPs led by former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma joined the TMC.

In neighboring Tripura, the party aims to challenge the ruling BJP, despite the saffron party sweeping recent civic polls in the state.

As part of its national expansion strategy, the TMC has inducted Bihar Congress leader and former BJP MP Kirti Azad, former JD(U) MP Pawan Verma, former Haryana Congress leader Ashok Tanwar, Delhi-based RTI activist Saket Gokhale, former Congress Mahila leader Sushmita Dev, former Goa Chief Minister Luizhino Falerio, former Union Minister Babul Supriyo among many 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 pan-Indian appeal and holistic view before formulating the strategy for the Lok Sabha 2024 poll,” a senior party official told PTI.

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

“The TMC is undergoing a qualitative and quantitative change under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee to become the main opposition force by 2022. We will be the real Congress. Many proposals are being discussed on how to emerge as as a nation. Talks are ongoing with potential allies in various states that oppose 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’ vis-a-vis the ‘Gujarat model’. featured by the BJP in front. 2014 elections in Lok Sabha.

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

The party is also planning to change 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 has been finalized yet,” said TMC MP Sougata Roy.

Born from 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 nationally. Also in 2012, it had opened several units in the northeastern states, which had to be disbanded after party leaders switched to the BJP or the big old party.

But this time, the TMC has by its side poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his I-PAC, with whom it has extended the contract until 2026. Kishor had played a vital role in securing the party’s election victory this year .

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

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

“In national politics, you can see several regional parties playing second fiddle to Congress. The big old party has failed, it’s a depleted force. We want to create our own identity,” Ghosh said.

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

“The image-building exercise has two facets. One is to shape Banerjee’s image as a self-made politician who comes from an apolitical background, who is not a product of dynasty politics. and which showcases her humble origins, how she tutored students and worked in milk shacks.Several films and documentaries in multiple languages ​​are in the pipeline,” a party leader said.

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

The BJP and Congress, however, ridiculed TMC’s national ambitions as “dwarf’s dreams of touching the sky”.

“The TMC has no ideology. Their ideology is to poach leaders of other parties to gain ground. They did that in West Bengal and now want to replicate that model of Bengal across the country. But this kind of politics will not yield results,” said Congress leader in Lok Sabha and state party chairman, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Echoing him, BJP National Vice President Dilip Ghosh said the TMC’s national ambitions will fall flat in 2024.

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

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

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