Mamata Banerjee was recently elected the chairperson of the TMC parliamentary party. Days after that her nephew Abhishek Banerjee has taken charge of the parliamentary party. On Monday, he gave direction to the MPs about the strategy to be adopted to make TMC ‘the most effective opposition’ in the parliament. The TMC MPs feel from now on Abhishek, as national general secretary of the party, will virtually lead the parliamentary party.
Abhishek has emerged as undisputed number two of the TMC during the assembly elections. The BJP targeted him as a ‘corrupt man’ who was being protected by her Pisi (aunt) Mamata Banerjee. The ‘pisi-bhaipo’ was the most-used refrain in the assembly elections in Bengal. But the largest chunk of the voters (48 per cent) rejected the political accusation. It has helped Abhishek to earn his stature, for it was he who led the charge against the BJP stalwarts like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and J P Nadda as second-in-command of the TMC during the campaign.
After the election, Mamata Banerjee credited Abhishek for the big victory and made him the All India General Secretary. Now, virtually TMC’s day-to-day functions are carried on under Abhishek’s direction. After its huge victory in Bengal, the TMC’s student wing (Trinamul Chhatra Parishad) released a song titled ‘Banglar yuvaraj Abhishek’. It was released on all online platforms. But Abhishek himself has said he would not take any ministerial berth in Bengal in the next 20 years and would work for strengthening the party organisation.
This 33-year old young leader is still to a large extent a private person and is not known for showing off. He survived a major car accident in August 2019. Afterwards, he started taking major responsibilities at the party. It was he who hired Prashant Kishor for political consultancy. Again, it was his tweet that forced the TMC supporters to retreat after they started pelting stones in the CBI office after the agency arrested four leaders, including two ministers of Mamata Banerjee’s government.
Bidyut Chatterjee, a professor of politics, feels Abhishek has the potential to go a far way. “But what is to be seen is whether he has the ability to lead the party in absence of Mamata Banerjee,” he adds. While that is true, Abhishek is to enjoy her aunt’s guidance for a long time as Mamata Banerjee is just 66-year old.
That may help him to grow his stature further and turn into a capable leader to lead the party effectively. Additionally, he has already proved that he believes in constructive politics. Even as the guide of a parliamentary party he has given direction to have perfect floor coordination with all other opposition parties. It may smoothen his journey further.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)