Ahead of Abhishek Banerjee’s political trip to Agartala, the capital of the state of Bengali-dominated Tripura, the city assumed a new look. Posters were plastered and banners popped up throughout the city welcoming the young TMC leader and his aunt Mamata Banerjee. But all were not happy about it. When Abhishek landed in Agartala this morning, many of those posters or placards were found torn.
If it is a sign of palpable jitteriness in the BJP camp, it augurs well for Abhishek. In politics, when a new entrant is trying to storm a region, such controversies help. BJP made attempt to storm Bengal with its non-Bengali force and lost. Now TMC has decided to storm Bengali areas of other states to take the war to BJP’s camp. Tripura tops the list as it is a Bengali dominated state. The other regions are Kachhar of Assam, eastern districts of Jharkhand, Varanasi district of UP and so on.
Interestingly, the TMC placards and posters in Agartala says Tripura Didikei chai (Tripura wants Didi). It is in tune with its recent slogan for Bengal election Bangla nijer meyekei chai (Bengal wants its own daughter). Evidently, TMC is trying to make Bengalis and Didi synonymous.
The BJP has successfully decimated Congress and the Left in Tripura. Dilip Ghosh, the president of BJP’s Bengal unit has questioned where is TMC in Tripura now. He added, “Whoever was there in TMC have all joined our party.” While it is true, another side of the coin shows TMC’s earlier attempt to emerge in Tripura as a force led by Mukul Roy was not a serious attempt. Abhishek is a much more popular face than Mukul, and if he is serious he has full eighteen months before the next assembly election to build an organisation there.
Abhishek, significantly, has started his venture into Tripura from Mathabari Mandir. Thereafter he is to attend organisational meetings with leaders and prominent cadres. He has earlier threatened to take the BJP head on in the state. Now he has started working to make his party organisationally strong in the state.
Given the vacuum in the opposition space and the small size of the state (it hosts only 2 Lok Sabha MPs), the task is not as daunting as it can be elsewhere. However, whether Abhishek will succeed is another matter.
(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)