July 24, 2021 3:41:14 am
Mamata Banerjee will now be the chairperson of the Trinamool Congress parliamentary party, the TMC announced on Friday ahead of the West Bengal Chief Minister’s first visit to the national capital after her spectacular victory in the Assembly elections.
Although not unprecedented, it is rare for parties to appoint leaders who are not MPs as their parliamentary party leaders. In 1998, the Congress had appointed Sonia Gandhi as its parliamentary party chairperson. She was not an MP then.
The Congress parliamentary party had then amended its provisions, making the party chief its ex-officio member. The move by the TMC, on the other hand, is seen as part of the well-choreographed efforts to set a narrative that Banerjee is eying a larger national role.
During her visit next week, Banerjee is expected to lay the groundwork for her party’s greater stress on national politics even while its electoral success is limited to Bengal.
Ever since her third election victory, Banerjee has been giving indications that she intends to play a role in national politics and pose a challenge to the BJP. She has appointed her nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee as the TMC’s all-India general secretary.
Earlier this week, she turned her party’s annual Martyrs’ Day event into a national affair. Several senior opposition leaders were among those present at the Constitution Club here, where her address was broadcast live by her party.
TMC MPs unanimously chose party chief Banerjee as the chairperson of its parliamentary party. Announcing the decision, Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O’Brien said she has been the guiding force behind the TMC parliamentary party for a long time.
“We are just formalising a reality. Our chairperson is a seven-time MP. She has the vision to guide the parliamentary party. She has the experience and insight. She was anyway guiding us,” he said.
The decision, he said, has been taken both at a “conceptual and tactical level”. “She has always been a call away. We feel more empowered,” O’Brien said.
Banerjee will be in Delhi for 3-4 days next week. She is likely to meet Opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
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