All indications are that TMC leader Mamata Banerjee is determined to play a crucial role in the national poll landscape.

 

New Delhi: Since the spectacular victory against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its mighty electoral machinery in the recently concluded West Bengal Assembly election, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) and its supreme leader Mamata Banerjee are eyeing a larger national role. The events of the last two months also indicate that the TMC is trying to make inroads and widen its electoral base outside West Bengal.

Its national general secretary and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is touring adjoining Tripura with an aim on the 2023 Assembly election in the state, while Mamata Banerjee is trying to bring anti-BJP parties together at the national level. Last week, the president of All India Mahila Congress and former lok Sabha member Sushmita Dev joined the AITMC and promised to make the party a force in the Barak Valley of Assam. In her visit to the national capital last month, Mamata Banerjee met the who’s who of Indian Opposition from Indian National Congress (INC) president Sonia Gandhi to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Noted election strategist Prashant Kishor, who spearheaded Mamata Banerjee’s campaign against the BJP in West Bengal, is also meeting top Opposition leaders to chalk out a strategy for a pan-India Opposition alliance against the BJP in the 2024 general elections. By defeating the BJP in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has energised the entire Opposition and this was on display through the Opposition unity in the recently concluded monsoon session of parliament.

Amresh Mitra, a political scientist based in Kolkata, told The Sunday Guardian: “Mamata Banerjee is jubilant after the victory of West Bengal where she defeated the BJP decisively. After winning a state like West Bengal which sends 42 members to Lok Sabha, it is natural that she would aim at a larger role in national politics.”

Prashant Kishor and Mamata Banerjee’s frequent tours and the TMC’s plans in the North-East had stoked speculation that the West Bengal Chief Minister might be going to be the Opposition face and challenger to the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. During the election campaign in the run-up to the West Bengal Assembly polls, AITMC leaders openly announced that Mamata Banerjee will fight the 2024 election from Varanasi. But many experts consider it as mere speculation which lacks any substance. “Being the top leader of a state is a different thing and becoming a national leader is totally different. TMC has no electoral base outside West Bengal, they would try to expand it in other states in the next few years, but it may be a futile exercise,” Sumit K. Jha from the University of Delhi told The Sunday Guardian. “Many leaders are throwing their hat in the ring, but to challenge Narendra Modi and the BJP, a party needs to be a national party with organizational structure and presence in every part of the country. Except the Congress, no other party is in a position to challenge the BJP, but there is nothing wrong in trying,” he added. All indications are that the Trinamool Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee looks determined and intends to play a crucial role in the national electoral landscape, while at the same time categorically ruling out her prime ministerial ambitions.