Prashant Kishor, Mamata Banerjee discuss anti-BJP alliance, structural shake-up in TMC

Jul 10, 2021 12:13 AM IST

The meeting, which continued for three hours, was held at the chief minister’s residence at Kalighat in south Kolkata.

Election strategist Prashant Kishor and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee met in Kolkata on Friday afternoon to discuss the organisational changes the Trinamool Congress (TMC) wants to introduce and the alliance of regional forces it plans to form against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prior to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, said ruling party leaders aware of the development.

File photo: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (ANI)
File photo: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (ANI)

The meeting, which continued for three hours, was held at the chief minister’s residence at Kalighat in south Kolkata. Her nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was also present.

TMC leaders aware of the development said that following Kishor’s advice, Mamata Banerjee wants to firmly enforce the one-man-one-post policy in the party and give more importance to young leaders to shake up the rank and file. Some major announcements are likely to be made next week.

“The changes will be made in view of the civic body election, which are overdue, as well as the 2023 panchayat polls and Lok Sabha polls in 2024. The BJP will surely put up a tough fight in all coming elections,” said a senior TMC leader who did not want to be named.

The chief minister is also keen to see the TMC playing a decisive role in the next Lok Sabha polls.

On June 22, prominent opposition leaders and civil society members assembled at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s residence in Delhi and discussed issues that may help regional forces project an alternative before voters.

The meeting took place after Kishor met Pawar twice. Former BJP leader and Union minister Yashwant Sinha, who joined the TMC in March this year, convened the meeting on behalf of Rashtra Manch, an anti-BJP platform that he co-founded in 2018.

Since the Congress did not attend it, the issue of forming a third front was not discussed, leaders who were present, later said.

The meeting was attended by National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary, NCP’s Praful Patel, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sushil Gupta, Communist Party of India’s Binoy Viswam and Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Nilotpal Basu. They discussed issues such as fuel price rise, unemployment and the need for social stability and harmony.

After achieving a resounding victory over the BJP in the recent assembly elections, the TMC, in June, renewed its contract with the Indian Political Action Committee, or I-PAC, the company launched by Kishor, till the next Lok Sabha polls.

Kishor declared that he had quit I-PAC and his team would function on its own. He said he would play a different role. Soon, Kishor was seen meeting leaders in different states.

Mamata Banerjee plans to consolidate anti-BJP forces and contest polls in other states with a target to win elections. This was officially declared by Abhishek Banerjee on June 8. The young Lok Sabha MP declared on that say that his party will set up units in other states with the sole aim to win assembly elections and face the BJP head-on.

Although he did not name any state, senior TMC leaders HT talked to said, the party is exploring the possibility of contesting in some big states rather than eyeing the smaller ones first.

States that go to the polls in 2022 are Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The TMC has no presence in any of these states.

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