Meghalaya polls to test TMC’s expansion plan
West Bengal’s ruling party has won three consecutive assembly polls in its home, but its ambition of expanding beyond Bengal to consolidate its position as a key political outfit has faced challenges.
West Bengal’s ruling party has won three consecutive assembly polls in its home turf under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, but its ambition of expanding beyond Bengal to consolidate its position as a key political outfit has faced challenges. The TMC, a national party, is looking at opportunities to be a part of the ruling dispensation or form the opposition force in more states.
Last year, it fought Goa assembly elections, but failed to win a seat. Earlier, the party fought in a few seats in the northeast and some neighbouring states of West Bengal. Some of its candidates won, but the TMC couldn’t create the desired impact.
The Meghalaya polls provides the TMC its best opportunity yet. On November 25, 2021, 12 out of 17 Congress MLAs of Meghalaya, including former chief minister Mukul Sangma, switched over to the TMC in a political coup, handing over the ready-made principal opposition’s position in the assembly to the party. Banerjee’ party has never been able to sit as the principal opposition in any assembly outside West Bengal.
Sangma’s entry in the TMC boosted the prospects of the party in the state. “We are expecting to do well in the Garo and Khasi hills,” a TMC leader said on condition of anonymity The Jaintia hills has about seven seats, but experts say the TMC might find it difficult to win votes in that region.
Unlike Goa, where the TMC started campaigning barely five months before the election, in Meghalaya, it has been present for more than a year. Derek O’Brien, TMC’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, said: “We have shared our time-bound vision document with the people of the state.”
“After our historical hat-trick in West Bengal, we set up units in four states, Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Goa. Cockiness before election results is not TMC’s style. We have been in Meghalaya for over a year. We have run a spirited campaign. Let’s wait till March 2,” O’Brien said. the results of the polls will be declared on March 2.
Capturing the primary opposition space gives the TMC a unique opportunity, but two party leaders admitted that if Meghalaya, too, rejects the TMC, the party will have to go back to the drawing board.