Boosted by the Election Commission declaring it a national party, the Trinamool Congress is keen to extend its national footprint by setting up party units in the crucial Hindi heartland state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand and Punjab. UP and Punjab are headed for Assembly polls next year and Bengal’s ruling party may contest the elections in both states.
Party insiders said that the leadership is open to coordination or alliances with regional parties, a policy in tune with the national-level federal front dream of Trinamool supremo and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Incidentally, the Trinamool is already the main opposition party in Tripura, the small Northeastern state that remains a CPI(M)-led Left bastion for decades. It is now busy devising a strategy to challenge the Left Front’s grip on the state in the Assembly elections due in 2018. Mamata attended a huge rally in Tripura’s capital, Agartala, on August 9 and gave a call for regime change in the state. Most of the Congress MLAs of Tripura have defected to the Trinamool. The party also has MLAs in Manipur, another Northeastern state.
“We are gearing up to launch party units in Punjab. We are also spreading our base in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and other states. We are a national party and Mamata Banerjee has a pan-India presence,” said a senior leader of Trinamool Congress.
The success of its long-drawn movement against forcible land acquisition, as reflected in the recent Supreme Court verdict in the Singur Tata Nano car project case, has come as a boon for the Trinamool. Party leaders think that they can now better project the Trinamool as the champion of the poor and middle class farmers.
A senior party leader told HT, “We are open to alliances with like-minded regional parties. Mamata Banerjee has already given a call to build a non-Congress, non-BJP secular front to take on the BJP at the Centre.”
Senior party leader Mukul Roy also held meetings in Punjab end August in a bid to launch a party unit in the state. Talks are also on with leaders of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to strengthen Trinamool’s base in those states.
Mamata has good ties with many regional leaders. She recently met Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal over dinner in Rome. Both were there to attend the canonisation ceremony of Mother Teresa. She also has a good equation with Bihar CM and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, RJD leader Lalu Prasad and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and his father, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
This year on July 21 Martyrs Day rally, the Trinamool Congress chief and her colleagues gave clear indications that the it’s time the party looks towards Delhi.