TMC has pressed the accelerator hard to speed up the process of becoming a national opposition force despite driving on a foggy road
The All India Trinamool Congress is trying hard to qualify as a national party. And the best means to achieve this right now – by filling the congress vacuum.
In few hours, the chief of the ruling party in Bengal will barge into the secretariat building, Nabanna, as a democratically elected chief minister of Bengal via by-polls. Not that her victory was unexpected. She won the election by more than 58,000 votes.
But along this, the Mamata Banerjee-led party is systematically trying to fill the vacuum created by the lacklustre Congress party.
The Congress vacuum
The oldest political party of India, the Congress party, is systematically losing its strength, PAN India due to lousy leadership, responsible for not-so-required chaos in Punjab. The opinion polls in the last two regional and general elections had reflected the failure of Congress to emerge as the strongest political opposition to BJP in the presence of strong regional parties.
Congress contested the West Bengal election in alliance with the Left Front in 2021. The coalition had to sweep the opposition votes, a way to prove their political relevance. But it failed to save their vote share. The reason for this is the Congress party’s decision to ally with the Left. The past rivalry between the two parties is not unknown. During the Congress rule, the violent voices of urban activists were silenced with guns.
The alliance led to confusion among the supporters of both parties. Similarly, in Assam, the disgruntled leadership leading the party to skip capitalizing on the political events like CAA and NRC has poured cold water into their hopes. In fact, in other north-eastern states, the former ruling party was reduced to just an opposition with MLAs jumping ship and fractured state leadership.
Both in Tripura and Meghalaya, the incapacitated leadership has forced the voters to look for an alternative. In the west, states like Rajasthan and Gujarat are waiting too long for the central leadership to look at the party management problems. Several leaders from different states are on regular flights to Delhi to complain about the state party unit. In southern states, Congress lost Kerala to Left Front. The Karnataka Congress is on the verge of recovering from the loss of its MLAs in the last election. In Tamil Nadu, Congress did some good by tying knots with DMK. At least, they are part of the alliance, which is in power.
Regional parties have emerged from Congress
Recently, during the joining ceremony of Luizinho Falerio, he expressed his desire to unite the Congress party. But in the context of the current situation, it just lies as a political statement which is not practical feasibility. Around 10 other politicians, mostly from the Goan Congress unit, have joined the green camp. It is a result of not proving Congress as faithful and powerful opposition.
All the regional parties have broken off from Congress, be it TMC or YSR Congress, or NCP. With time, these parties have become the strongest regional parties. Why the parties that broke off from Congress are more powerful in the region than the mother Congress?
The one reason that sums up the current positioning is the awareness of the regional problems. Unlike other national leaders of Congress, the current batch seems unaware of the regional issues and their strength. For example, the central leaders have campaigned in Assam on NRC and CAA issues. The more impactful campaign could be on lack of medical facilities.
TMC is filling the vacuum
If you have noticed, TMC has picked up members of the state leaders who are not happy with their central party leaders. Congress veterans like Sushmita Dev, Faleiro have joined the party. They are also trying to ally with other small regional parties, something that Congress should have done much earlier.
The party has decided to contest elections in Goa and Tripura and has plans to emerge as the strongest opposition, if not the ruling party. They have inducted Gokhale, a strong non-political face against BJP. (Something that Congress should have done)
They are now preparing to enter a once upon a time Congress-ruled state, Meghalaya. Even if Mukul Sangma’s statement is disturbing their pace, it is confirmed that TMC would not leave the game so easy. The party mouthpiece has also portrayed Banerjee as a better opposition face in the 2024 polls. But to be a leader of the national party, TMC has to fill up the criteria to become a national party. (In the respect of the cloud floating over the united opposition forces)
TMC as a national party
The current status of the party in other states or at least the buzz has convincingly eased their positioning as a national party. They have painted their presence in western states. People of Gujarat seemingly prefer Mamata. But on the other hand, Indians have to wait for TMC fortunes in Meghalaya. TMC is thought of as a party from Bengal and not a secular party in the Garo Hills region, where anti-Bengali sentiment is common.
The party might not be keen to jump directly into electoral politics in UP on such short notice. Contrarily, they might first try to win the smaller states to have a considerable base for managing and politicizing the larger ones.
TMC secured 1.4% of the vote and won one of Manipur’s 60 seats in the 2017 state elections. But the TMC MLA has decided to dissolve the party and support the BJP government. The game took an unfaithful turn for BJP as he then decided to withdraw the support and forge an alliance with Congress.
TMC did not field any candidates in the 2019 Arunachal polls. In the 2016 Assam poll, the green camp got only 4.9% of votes. They managed to get only 0.3% of the votes in Tripura and did not win seats. Hence, TMC is still dreaming a distant dream of becoming a national party. But thanks to Abhishek Banerjee, the party has now pressed the accelerator hard despite driving on the foggy roads.