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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Explained: Why is Mamata Banerjee headed to Goa?

Brimming with confidence after registering a spectacular victory in the Assembly polls earlier this year by defeating a surging BJP in West Bengal, Mamata’s party Trinamool Congress has now decided to jump into the electoral battle in Goa and contest the election scheduled early next year on its own.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury , Atri Mitra | Kolkata |
Updated: October 28, 2021 5:45:15 pm
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses during an administrative review meeting in Siliguri, Monday, Oct 25, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Starting Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will embark on a three-day trip to Goa to kickstart her party’s election campaign in the coastal state. Brimming with confidence after registering a spectacular victory in the Assembly polls earlier this year by defeating a surging BJP in West Bengal, Mamata’s party Trinamool Congress has now decided to jump into the electoral battle in Goa and contest the election scheduled early next year on its own. The party has named its campaign for the 2022 polls in Goa, ‘Goenchi Navi Sakal’ (Goa’s New Dawn), and has pressed in leaders like Derek O’Brien, Babul Supriyo and Sougata Roy to strengthen the organisation. Here is why Goa has become so important for the TMC.

Part of TMC’s national expansion plan

After he was elevated as TMC national general secretary in June, Abhishek Banerjee has assumed the responsibility of helping the party shed its image of a regional player and become an all-India political party.

As part of its pan-India expansion plans, the TMC has identified states where it wants to gain footprints. Apart from Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, the party has also earmarked Goa to make inroads. Except UP, the TMC’s focus is on smaller states where the party does not have to work very hard to prepare its organisation. With 40 Assembly seats, Goa appears to be an ideal place for the TMC to make its presence felt.

Taking the fight to BJP-ruled states

One common thread among all the states that TMC is eyeing is that they are all governed by the BJP or its allies. After successfully thwarting the BJP in the assembly polls despite the saffron party coming out with all guns blazing, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC has now vowed to take on the BJP in states where the latter is in power.

Abhishek Banerjee has said that they will jump into the fray in as many states as possible where the BJP is in power. The party intends to put pressure on the BJP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls where it wants to play a major role in shaping the Opposition alliance. The TMC national general secretary has said that it is only Mamata Banerjee who can take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “People of the country are now saying desh ka neta kaisa ho….. Mamata Banerjee jaisa ho,” said Abhishek Banerjee during a public meeting recently.

To Delhi via Goa and other states

The recent activities of the TMC is part of the party’s grand plan to project Mamata Banerjee as a national leader and the most credible face against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Under national general secretary and Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, the TMC has over the past few months, worked to strengthen its organisation in Tripura, and to find a foothold in Assam and Uttar Pradesh. It has taken in its fold Sushmita Dev from the Congress, two-term MP and former union minister Babul Supriyo from the BJP, and now, Faleiro.

Both Mamata and Abhishek have criticised the Congress for not being able to fight the BJP. The TMC mouthpiece, Jago Bangla, has attacked the Congress on several occasions, and announced that it is only Mamata Banerjee who has the credibility and charisma to lead an opposition coalition against the BJP. TMC claims that it is the only political party, and not the Congress, that can counter the BJP.

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Drawing strength from the Congress

To be able to make inroads in Goa, the TMC got hold of its former chief minister and Congress leader Luizinho Faleiro, who, on October 22, was made its national vice-president. The party has also got the support of Independent MLA Prasad Goankar. The Congress, which is the lead opposition party in Goa, has only four MLAs now. Sources in the TMC said that many leaders from the Congress will join the party during Mamata Banerjee’s visit.

As the party is losing strength to the TMC, Congress leaders have started questioning Mamata Banerjee’s motive and wondered whether she wanted to defeat the BJP or weaken the Congress. State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “She is working not to defeat the BJP but to destroy the Congress. The party is taking leaders from the Congress and at the same time criticising us for not fighting against the BJP.”

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