In expansion mode ever since it fought off the BJP assault in the April-May Bengal Assembly elections, the Trinamool Congress today shifted gears in its acquisition of political leaders and made three new additions to the party from across the country — mostly at the cost of the Congress. With these additions, the party has also signalled that it is ready to go ahead towards 2024 on its own.
Kirti Azad, former Team India batsman who changed teams from BJP to the Congress in 2019, has now signed up with Mamta Banerjee. So has Ashok Tanwar, formerly a Rahul Gandhi aide who proved his mettle as Congress chief in Haryana till he fell out with the top brass in the state.
Pawan Verma, the Rajya Sabha MP for Janata Dal United from Bihar, who fell out with party chief and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, also joined the Trinamool Congress today.
Mr Verma was expelled by the JDU in January 2020 — at the same time as the party’s national Vice-President Prashant Kishor, who is now a full-time election strategist propelling the Trinamool Congress towards the national stage.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury slammed the latest Congress deserters as “opportunists” and Trinamool Congress again as the BJP’s “Trojan Horse” which is working to damage the chances of a broad-based national opposition front against the BJP.
“What is their electoral arithmetic? 63 percent of India did not vote for the BJP in 2019. 20 per cent voted for Congress. Trinamool got only 4 percent vote. What is it hoping to achieve without the Congress,” he said.
Today’s Congress entrants into Trinamool have followed in the footsteps of the late president Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee, Sushmita Dev — former Congress MP from Silchar and daughter of late Congress stalwart Santosh Mohan Dev — and Luizinho Faleiro, the former Chief Minister of Goa.
With every acquisition, the Trinamool has expanded its footprint outside West Bengal which is Mamta Banerjee’s avowed political plan — to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections.
Ashok Tanwar has given Trinamool a toehold in Haryana, a state that has played a major role in the farmers’ unflinching demand for the withdrawal of the Centre’s three farm laws.
With Kirti Azad and Pawan Verma, the Trinamool Congress now has its foot in the door of Bengal’s neighbour Bihar.
As far as the Trinamool Congress is concerned, every new political acquisition is a feather in its cap. But political analysts are wondering if, after these acquisitions, there will be a Sonia Gandhi meeting with Mamata Banerjee during the Bengal Chief Minister’s current Delhi visit.
They also put a question mark over Trinamool’s “ekla chalo” (go it alone) expansion policy on opposition unity ahead of the 2024 national election.