The TMC’s expansion routes
After its success in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) decided to position itself as a national force capable of taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It has since focused on two serious routes of expansion. One, it has decided to target specific geographies — which have either a substantial Bengali population or where it is able to successfully coopt local leaders or where the Congress is weak or where all such conditions exist and there is room for an Opposition force to make rapid strides. It is in this backdrop that the TMC has recruited Sushmita Dev (Barak Valley), Luizinho Faleiro (Goa), and, now, Mukul Sangma (Meghalaya), and moved into Tripura (where it appears to have already become the primary Opposition in public perception).
The second route is picking individuals who are unhappy with their own formations or have a public profile and can be used to portray an image of the TMC’s growing national character, or can be assigned to cultivate specific social or parliamentary constituencies. From Yashwant Sinha to Kirti Azad, Pavan Varma to Ashok Tanwar, Leander Paes to Jawhar Sircar, the TMC has picked figures who can bring visibility to the party even if their electoral contribution may be limited.
If the intent is to send out a serious message about its ambitions in 2024, the TMC has succeeded — though it will face a challenge as the leading non-Congress Opposition force to the BJP from the Aam Aadmi Party, if Arvind Kejriwal can win Punjab. If the intent is to reach a critical mass to be able to actually displace the Congress as the leading Opposition force, or to actually challenge Narendra Modi, the TMC still has a long way to go. But there is no doubt that it has displayed raw political hunger, ambition, and lots of energy — crucial qualities in the electoral theatre.