NEW DELHI: The Assembly election results of Tripura and Meghalaya, where Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) is fighting as part of its national expansion plan, will be the final test for the party’s national ambitions before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, where the party and its chief Mamata Banerjee has been trying to stitch a “united opposition” alliance against the BJP.
Sources from Tripura told The Sunday Guardian that the TMC has not been able to generate the kind of response it was expecting to in the last one-and-a-half years and that the party could well be placed in the third position after the results are declared in March this year.
Political observers from Tripura said that the TMC would face a tough challenge in the hill state as the political situation there is very different from that of West Bengal, where the party has been in power since 2011. “The TMC will have to face a tough election here, as there will be a virtually four-cornered fight, with the BJP on one side, the CPM and Congress alliance on the other, and the strong TIPRA Motha party led by former royal scion of Tripura, Pradyot Manikya Debbarma on another side. Debbarma has a strong influence in the 20 reserved tribal seats of Tripura. The TMC had come to Tripura by making too much noise, but has been able to achieve very little on the groundr,” a political observer from Tripura told The Sunday Guardian.
Sources from within the TMC told this correspondent that the party had lost the steam it was able to gather when they went to Tripura right after the 2021 Assembly elections in West Bengal, because of factionalism and rivalry. “After the party lost the local body elections in Tripura, the state unit underwent a massive turbulence and the entire state unit had to be removed because of reports of serious infighting and incompetence. The party, which was initially thinking of coming to power in the state, is now fighting for the third place in the state,” a source from TMC told this correspondent. The TMC is also unlikely to contest all the 60 Assembly seats in the state.
However, some TMC leaders claim that although it is a tough challenge for them in the state, they are confident that the party will make a significant mark in the state elections that will be held on 16 February. Rajib Banerjee, senior TMC leader and in-charge for Tripura, told The Sunday Guardian that the party, despite facing stiff opposition in Tripura, has stuck to its ground to make an impact in the electoral battle of the state.
“You have seen the kind of violence that is unleashed in Tripura by the BJP; despite that, we have stuck to the ground here and have been able to boost our organisation enough. The party will declare the list of candidates in the coming week,” Banerjee said.
Asked if the party would contest all the Assembly seats in the state, Banerjee said, “No, we will not contest all the 60 seats, we have identified the seats and places where we are strong, our booth committee is strong, we will contest on those seats. We have received a lot of applications for candidature and we are reviewing them.”
Banerjee also said that party supremo Mamata Banerjee would be holding just two rallies in Tripura, while her second-in-command, Abhishek Banerjee would be touring the state and holding multiple rallies in Tripura.
The party’s prospects for Meghalaya, according to political observers, are also not positive because of the deep-rooted presence of the regional parties in the state. Though the TMC has announced a series of freebie schemes similar to those running in West Bengal, the party is unlikely to cut through the regional sentiments in the state. The TMC had also earlier contested the Goa Assembly elections in 2022, riding on the wave of its victory in West Bengal, but was unable to secure even 5% vote share.