Mamata Banerjee Plants Nephew Abhishek Firmly In ‘Successor’ Saddle, Unveils A ‘New Look’ Trinamool

Mamata Banerjee Plants Nephew Abhishek Firmly In ‘Successor’ Saddle, Unveils A ‘New Look’ TrinamoolWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. 
Snapshot
  • Abhishek Banerjee is credited with the Trinamool’s landslide victory in the recent Assembly polls.

    He saw the writing on the wall after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, where the Trinamool didn’t do too well and the BJP posted very handsome wins. He immediately roped in political strategist Prashant Kishor, said a party leader, suggesting that the future is Trinamool.

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee has rung in far-reaching changes in the party’s organisational structure by firmly anointing nephew Abhishek Banerjee as her successor and appointing a number of fresh faces in important party posts.

While Abhishek Banerjee has been made the national general secretary of the party, replacing close Mamata aide Subrata Bakshi, young people close to him have been given key posts.

This “blend of the old and new”, as senior leader Partha Chatterjee told reporters on Saturday, will be the new face of the party that now wants to not only consolidate the massive gains it made recently, but also increase its acceptability among millennials.

Abhishek Banerjee is credited with the Trinamool’s landslide victory in the recent Assembly polls.

“He saw the writing on the wall after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls where the Trinamool didn’t do too well and the BJP posted very handsome wins. He immediately roped in (political strategist) Prashant Kishor,” said Chatterjee.

Prashant Kishor (PK) is widely believed to have delivered the landslide victory to the party. The interventions suggested by him, including gimmicks like Duare Sarkar (government at doorsteps), helped the Trinamool not only defeat acute anti-incumbency, but garner huge support for Mamata Banerjee.

PK’s successful projection of Mamata Banerjee as Bengal’s ‘daughter’ who was fighting off powerful ‘outsiders’ like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to preserve Bengal’s culture and heritage clicked with the masses and resulted in an outpouring of support for her.

“All credit goes to Abhishek Banerjee for thinking out of the box and getting PK to strategise. Over the past two years, he worked in perfect coordination with PK to ensure smooth implementation of all ideas suggested by PK and making certain that the entire party machinery worked in perfect sync with I-PAC (PK’s organisation),” said Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.

Ghosh, 52, who is close to Abhishek Banerjee, has been appointed the party's state general secretary. He has been one of the staunchest defenders of Mamata Banerjee and the party before, during and after the polls.

Another major step taken by the Trinamool supremo is to lay the ground for strengthening the party organisation and explore the possibility of taking it beyond the borders of Bengal.

Abhishek Banerjee is learnt to have suggested to Mamata Banerjee to implement the ‘one man one post’ criterion, which the party supremo has agreed to.

Abhishek led by personal example and gave up the post of president of the Trinamool Youth Congress that he was occupying. Actor Saayoni Ghosh, who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly polls, has been named the new chief of the party’s youth wing.

Saayoni Ghosh has a good rapport with Abhishek Banerjee. So does film director Raj Chakraborty, 46, who was drafted into the party before the Assembly polls and fielded as the Trinamool candidate from Barrackpore constituency.

Chakraborty won the elections and has been made the head of the Trinamool’s cultural wing. This wing of the party plays a crucial role in the Trinamool’s outreach to cultural personas of Bengal, whose endorsement is very important for Mamata Banerjee.

Another young leader — 42-year-old Ritabrata Banerjee — has been appointed the head of the party’s trade union wing.

Ritabrata Banerjee was a popular leader of the CPI(M) and was expelled from that party in 2017, following which he joined the Trinamool.

Trusted Mamata aide Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, who is also a Lok Sabha member, has been made the head of the party’s women’s wing, while veteran trade unionist and former minister Purnendu Bose has been made the head of the Trinamool’s farmers’ wing.

“Abhishek’s appointment as the all-India general secretary of the party and the nomination of so many young people to key party posts indicates that Mamata Banerjee is looking to the future. She realises that a lot of anti-incumbency, which could have harmed the Trinamool’s electoral prospects, was due to tired old faces who were accused of corruption and non-performance. The fresh faces are meant to counter that perception and also win over young people to the Trinamool,” said political analyst Rudrakishore Ghoshal.

The Trinamool supremo has also entrusted a core team comprising veteran leaders Derek O’Brien, Sudip Bandopadhyay and Saugata Roy (all are Trinamool MPs) to chart out a roadmap for expanding the Trinamool’s footprints to other states.

Once again, Abhishek Banerjee has been put in charge of this team. Through this latest rejig in the party structure, Mamata Banerjee has sent out a few clear and unequivocal messages: that Abhishek Banerjee is her successor and that everyone in the party will have to follow him, that the Trinamool is keen on an image makeover to gain acceptability among the younger generation, professionals and other sections who have kept away from the party, and that the party is looking beyond Bengal now.

Prashant Kishor, who has developed a perfect rapport with Abhishek Banerjee, has been entrusted with a key, behind-the-scenes role in fashioning Trinamool 2.0.

The vision (Trinamool 2.0) is said to be Abhishek’s, and PK is the strategist who has been drafted once again to help the party realise that vision.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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