Coming at a time when the Trinamool–Congress bonhomie is floundering, the TMC decision to field candidates in Goa, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh in the coming assembly elections has taken the Congress by surprise.
Officially, the Congress has played down the move. “If I recall, at some point of time the Trinamool Congress had also contested elections from Tripura, Jharkhand and probably in Kerala. So I leave it to your judgment whether it constitutes spreading the political base,” said party spokesman Manish Tewari.
Congress leaders view the development as the Trinamool’s “eagerness to acquire the status of a national party”, rather than as an attempt to dent its votebank in these states.
“The Trinamool Congress has hardly any presence in UP. It might get few votes in Goa and Manipur but not to the extent of causing any damage to us,” said a senior congress functionary, who refused to be identified. “It is more interested in getting the status of a national party rather than putting up a serious fight.”
According to election commission criteria, a party recognised as a state party in a minimum of four states will be eligible for the national party status, and should get at least 6% votes polled in assembly election in four states.
At present, there are 6 national parties — Congress, BJP, CPM, CPI, BSP and NCP.
But senior Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy dismissed the contention. “In politics, there is no question of being non-serious. We have already established our party base in some states and are going to expand in rest of the country as well,” he said.