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Abhishek Banerjee, Mamata Banerjee’s heir apparent, needs to be battle ready

A fluent speaker, Abhishek Banerjee has imbibed her aunt’s aggression and confidence but as he made his political debut when Mamata Banerjee was in power, he lacks the baptism by fire like his aunt, who survived decades of Left aggression in West Bengal.

people Updated: Apr 15, 2019 12:57 IST
Avijit Ghosal
Avijit Ghosal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Abhishek Banerjee,Mamata Banerjee,candidate profile
Abhishek Banerjee, Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress’s candidate from Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency(File photo)

Abhishek Banerjee entered the Lok Sabha in 2014 when he was only 26 years old. The Trinamool Congress lawmaker from Diamond Harbour is the nephew of party chief Mamata Banerjee and seen as her heir apparent.

However, not all senior leaders of the ruling party in West Bengal were comfortable with the idea.

Party insiders point out that the differences between former second-in-command Mukul Roy and Mamata Banerjee began as he turned uncomfortable with the role of Abhishek Banerjee in the Trinamool. It eventually paved the way for Roy’s exit and joining the BJP.

Read : All you need to know about Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency

A fluent speaker, Abhishek Banerjee has imbibed her aunt’s aggression and confidence, but as he made his political debut when Mamata Banerjee was in power. He also lacks the baptism through the fire like his aunt, who survived decades of Left aggression in West Bengal.

However, Mamata Banerjee’s relation with her nephew has not been completely without hiccups.

About three months before the assembly elections in West Bengal in 2011, banners and posters across the eastern state suddenly announced the launch of a new outfit named Yuva.

Read: Mamata Banerjee, fighter to the core who banks on planning

Yuva became Abhishek’s political launchpad after Mamata Banerjee assumed power and was a parallel organisation to the Trinamool Youth Congress, then headed by one of the most popular youth leaders with his own support base in the state Suvendu Adhikari. Adhikari is now the state transport minister.

In 2015, Abhishek became the Trinamool Youth Congress chief and Yuva was subsequently dissolved.

For Mamata Banerjee’s political opponents, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party, Abhishek is a constant target. They think the easiest way of cornering Mamata Banerjee is by getting at Abhishek.

No public speech of BJP leaders in the state is complete without a reference to ‘the nephew’ and mention of disproportionate growth of his business and assets. But inquiries against him have not crystallised into any investigation so far.

Read: BJP’s 2019 challenge is threefold

In retaliation, the Diamond Harbour MP has dragged both BJP president Amit Shah and Mukul Roy to court with defamation suits.

In March, Abhishek Banerjee’s wife hit the headlines when the customs department alleged that she refused to cooperate with their officers at the Kolkata airport when they stopped her and an associate as they were returning from Bangkok and suspected of carrying gold.

The young MP hit back alleging that the Centre is harassing him since he has dragged the BJP president to the court over an alleged defamatory remark.

He has become the second most important campaigner in the Lok Sabha elections after Mamata Banerjee. However, he takes care never to refer to his relationship with the party chief and describes her as “our leader”.

Abhishek has also been saying in every public meeting that Trinamool Congress will play a leading role in forming the new government at the Centre and Mamata Banerjee will be the next Prime Minister.

After a master’s degree in business administration in 2009, Abhishek first turned to business with his companies Leaps & Bounds Infra Consultants Private Limited and Leaps and Bounds Pvt Ltd, being incorporated in May 2011 and April 2012.

However, he resigned from the companies after becoming an MP in 2014 and his wife, Rujira, and parents Amit and Lata now look after the two companies, as well as the Leaps & Bounds Management Services LLP, which was incorporated in 2017.

Right now, Abhishek Banerjee’s office is flooded with pleas from Trinamool leaders in various districts seeking his time for public meetings as his party is engaged in a bitter war of words with the BJP amid the Lok Sabha election.

First Published: Apr 15, 2019 12:57 IST