Trinamool Top Ranks Jittery: Rumours Of More Defections Demoralise Party Cadres

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Jan 11, 2021 02:45 PM
Trinamool Top Ranks Jittery: Rumours Of More Defections Demoralise Party CadresTrinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee and Prashant Kishor.
Snapshot
  • Trinamool cadres, singed by widespread allegations of corruption and nepotism are yet to muster courage to campaign for their party among the still-angry masses.

The string of defections from the Trinamool to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had left the regional party’s cadres confused and demoralised.

What has disheartened them more are the strong rumours about impending defections of more leaders and their supporters from the party.

This has, in turn, left the party’s top leadership dispirited and desperate. According to senior Trinamool leaders who met party supremo Mamata Banerjee late last week, Banerjee asked them to ignore defections and campaign vigorously for the assembly polls due a few months from now.

Banerjee’s hired poll strategist Prashant Kishor has reportedly advised her to ask her party leaders to concentrate on highlighting the state government’s many welfare schemes and ignore the defections.

However, say some senior party leaders, it is hard to convince the party cadres to ignore the defections and news of impending defections.

“Our workers and supporters are getting increasingly demoralised. One cannot expect disheartened people to campaign enthusiastically,” a senior Trinamool leader and minister from North Bengal told Swarajya.

Last week’s resignation of cricketer-turned-politician and sports minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla from the cabinet, and news of forest minister Rajib Banerjee, Trinamool MLA Vaishali Dalmiya, former Howrah Mayor Rathin Chakraborty and a few others waiting to resign from the Trinamool, has left Trinamool workers severely dejected.

To counter this, Kishor has advised the party chief to step up the campaign to highlight the many welfare measures launched by her government in the hope that such a high-decibel campaign will overshadow the defections and turn the gloom among party cadres into enthusiasm.

“But that is easier said than done. It is proving impossible to enthuse our workers to campaign vigorously. More so because every day many people from not just the Trinamool, but also other parties, as well as people from many walks of life, are joining the BJP and that party highlights such joinings through high-decibel campaigns in social and other media,” said the minister.

The frequent visits of senior BJP leaders from outside the state, and the enthusiastic response from the masses that their roadshows are evoking, has also left Trinamool cadres dispirited.

“Politics is a lot about perception and in popular perception now, the BJP is on the upswing. BJP leaders from Delhi and other states coming to Bengal with increasing frequency and the response they are getting from the people has sowed serious doubts among our workers about our winnability in the next assembly polls,” said a senior Trinamool leader from Purba Bardhaman district.

BJP national president J P Nadda’s massive roadshow in Bardhaman town last weekend evoked a spontaneous and enthusiastic response from tens of thousands of residents of the town who lined the streets and showered marigold petals on him.

“That massive and popular response also proves that our campaign to paint the visiting BJP leaders as ‘outsiders’ has not been accepted by the people. That smear campaign seems to have been counterproductive. That has also dampened the enthusiasm of our party workers and supporters,” the Trinamool leader, who also holds an important state-level organisational post in his party, said.

Apart from the defections and the good response that BJP programmes are receiving, mounting anti-incumbency and the BJP’s aggressive campaign against the Trinamool’s alleged corruption has left the Trinamool cadres and supporters on the defensive.

According to many in the Trinamool, it will be foolish to interpret the good response to the government’s outreach programmes like Duare Sarkar (government at the doorstep) as support from the Trinamool.

“People will line up to avail of government’s welfare schemes like Swasthya Sathi (Bengal’s health insurance scheme). But that does not mean that all those who have enrolled for the scheme or even benefited from it will vote for our party,” said the party leader from Bardhaman.

He explained that launching the outreach programme on the eve of the elections has exposed the political motive behind the welfare measures.

Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya agrees. “People are not fools, they know that the Duare Sarkar programme is a poll gimmick. Had the (Trinamool) government been sincere about people’s welfare, it would have launched this much earlier,” he said.

Trinamool cadres, singed by widespread allegations of corruption and nepotism in distribution of relief during the pandemic-induced lockdown and after cyclone Amphan, are yet to muster courage to campaign for their party among the still-angry masses.

All these factors have resulted in a pall of gloom descending on Trinamool workers and supporters. Realising this, a highly worried party leadership is desperately trying to frame a strategy to enthuse the cadres.

But the measures undertaken till now by the Trinamool’s top leadership do not seem to be working. That has reportedly left Prashant Kishor worried. And also very fearful of the wrath of Banerjee that he’ll surely incur if he fails to deliver a victory to her a few months from now.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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