Escalating the party's bid to increase its footprint in Tripura, the Trinamool Congress has decided to intensify activities to bail out 23 members of a survey team from poll strategist Prashant Kishor's organisation, Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), who have been detained at an Agartala hotel since Sunday.
On Thursday, TMC Rajya Sabha leader Derek O'Brien reached Tripura capital Agartala along with Lok Sabha MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar. Party chief Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is also the TMC's all-India general secretary, is likely to join them on Friday.
These visits come following the visit of a three-member delegation comprising Bengal education minister Bratya Basu, law minister Malay Ghatak and labour wing leader Ritabrata Banerjee that landed in Agartala on Wednesday. They were still there till Thursday afternoon and were expected to stay back till Friday or Saturday.
Abhishek's visit to the state on Friday is only likely to intensify the TMC's Tripura campaign further.
"The BJP government in Tripura has detained I-PAC surveyors undemocratically and illegally. If we don't take the issue to the greatest extent possible, the BJP will be encouraged to further threaten and harass our workers and supporters in Tripura. We must set an example before the state's anti-BJP population that the TMC will use all its might to stand by them in the fight for toppling the Biplab Deb government in 2023," said a senior TMC who did not want to be named.
O'Brien, Ghosh Dastidar and other TMC leaders are expected to interact with the detained I-PAC workers on Thursday. The team members have been asked by Tripura police not to move out of the hotel until their investigation is over. The TMC alleged that the surveyors have been illegally detained as part of state BJP's plot to demoralise TMC supporters.
"We need to assure our supporters that the TMC will do everything to stand by them," said a TMC veteran who is known to be close to Abhishek, who is to spearhead the Bengal-based party's national expansion plan.
On social media, the TMC's Facebook page for Tripura has already started campaigning with the slogan: "Ab ki baar, Didi ki Sarkar", meaning it's Didi's government this time.
The TMC does not yet have a widely recognisable face in Tripura but the party is on the lookout for such faces from the BJP and the Left camp.
Meanwhile, the BJP in Tripura has a plan to stage agitations on the streets when Abhishek reaches Agartala. The demonstrators are to carry black flags to protest political violence and intimidation of BJP workers in Bengal since the Assembly election result, said a senior leader of West Bengal BJP who is keeping in touch with the party's Tripura leaders.