Sangma, Azad, Tanwar: Why Recent Joinees Into Trinamool Are Unlikely To Bring Cheer For The Party

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Nov 25, 2021 12:14 PM
Sangma, Azad, Tanwar: Why Recent Joinees Into Trinamool Are Unlikely To Bring Cheer For The Party (L to R) Mukul Sangma, Kirti Azad, and Ashok Tanwar
  • Entry of disgruntled functionaries from other parties will hardly help the Trinamool gain a foothold in other states and become a national party.

The defection of former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma along with eleven other Congress legislators of the state from the Congress to the Trinamool late Wednesday evening is being touted as a coup executed by Mamata Banerjee.

Sangma’s entry into the Trinamool has been on the cards for the past couple of months and he has been in talks with senior Trinamool leaders as well as Mamata Banerjee’s hired political strategist Prashant Kishor to negotiate his entry.

Sangma has been unhappy with the top Congress leadership, including Sonia Gandhi and her son. The appointment of his political rival, Shillong Lok Sabha MP Vincent Pala, as the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee president a few months ago angered Sangma and since then he has been planning to exit the Congress. Sangma wanted to float his own regional party, but was ultimately persuaded by Kishor and other Trinamool leaders like Derek O’Brien and former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro (who also exited the Congress and joined the Trinamool recently) to join Mamata Banerjee’s party.

Be that as it may, the Trinamool seems to have little to celebrate over Sangma’s induction into the party. That’s because defections, even largescale defections, from one party to another is endemic in Northeast and there have been many instances of all MLAs of one party defecting en masse to another party.

Sangma left the Congress because he was unhappy over Pala’s appointment which he felt was a move by the party ‘high command’ to sideline him. It will be no surprise at all if the party’s central leadership woos him back by offering him a senior post.

Also, Mamata Banerjee is hardly an inspirational leader and has no links with the Northeastern state. She is widely viewed as a rabble rouser and does not evoke any admiration among the Westernised folk of the region.

And the Trinamool Congress itself holds no attraction and is only a convenient platform for dissidents and others (including the political have-beens) to further their political careers.

The Trinamool would do well to remember that Mamata Banerjee campaigned vigorously in Manipur before the 2012 Assembly polls in that state and the party’s nominees won seven seats. But all seven MLAs subsequently defected to others parties.

The Trinamool could never again make an entry into Manipur. The Trinamool’s victory in Manipur in 2012 came on the heels of Mamata Banerjee vanquishing the Left and becoming the chief minister of Bengal in 2011.After her party won seven seats in Manipur, she grandly declared that the Trinamool is poised to become a national party and establish its presence in the other northeastern states as well. Nothing of that sort happened.

History will, in all probability, repeat itself and even if the Trinamool under Sangma’s leadership wins a sizeable number of seats in Meghalaya in the Assembly elections due in 2023, there is no guarantee that Sangma and company will not desert the Trinamool to join another party or even float their own party to suit their convenience.

Post Bengal elections, a few others from Assam, Tripura, Bihar, Goa and even Haryana have joined the Trinamool. Their entries have been touted by the Trinamool as proof of Mamata Banerjee’s growing acceptance beyond Bengal’s boundaries. But even a cursory analysis will reveal that only some inconsequential persons from other parties have joined the Trinamool. None of them are front-rung leaders and most have not won any elections in their political careers.

TMC's biggest catch in Tripura has been Subal Bhowmick who had journeyed from the Congress to the Trinamool to the BJP and then even become a brahmachari before returning to the Congress and then switching to the Trinamool a couple of months ago. Bhowmick has failed repeatedly to win elections.

The Trinamool inducted Sushmita Dev, daughter of Congress heavyweight Santosh Mohan Dev, from Barak valley in Assam. The Congress is a spent force in Assam and has been relegated to the sidelines by the BJP in the Barak Valley; Sushmita’s electoral prospects in her home turf are dismal.

She lost the last two elections that she contested and her chances of winning an election in the near future from Barak Valley are bleak. It’s thus good for her that she has been deployed in neighbouring Tripura where her chances of winning a civic election are better than the Barak valley which was her father’s stronghold.

The only ‘big’ catch has been former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro. But the septuagenarian Faleiro is a spent force in Goa and even his own party (the Congress) was planning to replace him as its candidate from the Navelim Assembly constituency, a seat that Faleiro won from seven times, due to acute anti-incumbency against him.

Earlier this week, Mamata Banerjee inducted sacked Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Pavan Varma, and former Congress leaders Kirti Azad and Ashok Tanwar into the Trinamool. Varma, a former diplomat, is a political lightweight who has never fought an election. He was expelled from the JD(U) along with Mamata Banerjee’s hired political strategist Prashant Kishor.

Kirti Azad, a cricketer, is the son of former Bihar chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad and won the Darbhanga Lok Sabha seat as BJP candidate in 2009 and 2014. He was suspended from the party in 2015 for targeting the then Union finance minister Arun Jaitley over alleged irregularities in the Delhi Cricket Association. He joined the Congress and was fielded by that party from the Dhanbad Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 elections, but was defeated by the BJP’s Pashupati Nath Singh by a margin of more than 4.86 lakh votes.

Ashok Tanwar was a rising star in the Congress and a close aide of Rahul Gandhi before he had a fallout with the Congress leadership in his home state Haryana and was expelled from the party. He won the Sirsa Lok Sabha seat as the Congress candidate in 2009, but lost in 2014. After that, his political career went nowhere and he lost all relevance.

The induction of these three persons will hardly help the Trinamool Congress establish a political presence in Bihar or Haryana. The trio’s entry into the Trinamool hardly found even a passing mention in the Hindi language newspapers, portals or TV channels in their home states.

Entry of inconsequential third-rung leaders, or disgruntled functionaries from other parties, will hardly help the Trinamool gain a foothold in other states and become a national party.

For that to happen, it needs to have an ideology (sops and doles don’t substitute for ideology) that people are drawn to, and a concrete vision for the country.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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