After her two-day visit to the western coastal state of Goa at the end of October, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is all set to visit her state’s northeastern neighbour, Tripura, where too her party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), has forayed, eying the assembly elections due in 2023.
Mamata Banerjee will be visiting Tripura in December, her nephew and the TMC’s all-India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee announced at a party rally in Tripura on Sunday. He has already paid four visits to the state in the past three months.
In Tripura, former Assam Congress MP-turned the TMC’s Rajya Sabha member Sushmita Dev is playing the leading role for the TMC. Dev’s father, late Congress stalwart Santosh Mohan Dev, used to have influence in both Assam and Tripura.
From his Sunday rally, Abhishek took sharp digs at the state’s BJP government for adopting undemocratic methods to stop the TMC from carrying out its political programmes.
“We will fight till the last drop of our blood. This is our promise! We will stand beside the people of Tripura and fight for them, fight for their freedom,” the Banerjee junior said from the rally.
Politics in the small state with only two Lok Sabha seats is heating up even since the TMC launched an expansion drive there after returning to power in West Bengal for a third consecutive term. Tripura has a significant Bengali population and shares some cultural similarities with West Bengal.
Politically, Tripura has been dominated by Leftists for most parts of the past three decades, with the Congress being its prime rival. However, the TMC had significantly weakened the Congress there with poaching in 2016 but later the BJP built its organisation in the state by poaching on the TMC, which had to beat a retreat, and the BJP eventually toppled Manik Sarkar’s CPI(M)-led government in 2018.
Their Tripura initiatives were revived after the Bengal assembly poll results and since then the state has witnessed a number of incidents of attacks on TMC supporters and organizers, allegedly by the members and the supporters of the BJP. As of now, the 2023 assembly election looks set to see a three-corner fight between the BJP, the Left and the TMC.
Last month, Abhishek could not hold his scheduled protest rally in Tripura after the administration disallowed permission, citing different reasons for different days.
Yesterday, too, trouble broke out after the TMC alleged that the police, who had given permission for a rally four days ago, withdrew it at the last moment citing pandemic related restrictions. The TMC later approached the Tripura high court, which allowed the party to conduct the programme with limited presence of the public.
Dev had in a statement on Saturday night called it ‘a moral victory’. Dev has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court against Tripura’s Biplab Deb government’s alleged denial of permission to the TMC’s events.
The TMC has appointed former Congress MLA Subir Bhowmik as the party’s Tripura unit president.