KOLKATA: It’s been nearly 20 years since Mamata Banerjee left the Congress, and yet her party Trinamool Congress has decided to celebrate the birth centenary of Indira Gandhi in a big way on November 19.
The party is flush with it recent elevation to the status of a national party, and Mamata Banerjee is said to be keen to use this momentum to emerge as a leader of the anti-BJP political forces in time for the 2019 elections.
Towards this end, the Trinamool Congress supremo is leaving no stone unturned, using contemporary issues to corner the Modi government while simultaneously engaging in a conversation with anti-BJP parties. In partnership with Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav and even the Congress high command, Mamata Banerjee is hoping to leverage issues by which to probe the chinks in the BJP’s armour during the winter session of Parliament this month.
Highly placed sources in the Trinamool Congress confirmed that the party, along with JD(U), RJD, Aam Aadmi Party and Congress are planning to corner the BJP over issues such as the encounter killing of eight SIMI operatives in Bhopal last week, the one-day ban on NDTV Hindi over its coverage of Pathankot attack and the Grewal suicide.
This informal cooperation of anti-BJP parties may lead to a formalization of an alliance ahead of the general elections of 2019. "An alliance of all anti-BJP parties will be nurtured keeping the 2019 elections in mind," a Trinamool Congress insider said. The move to celebrate the Indira anniversary sounds rather ironic because Mamata Banerjee has depleted the Congress ranks through floor crossovers.
“And now the move to steal the thunder of the Congress by appropriating the Indira icon would help her projecting Trinamool as an alternative to the grand old party and a better opposition to the BJP," a political analyst said.
The West Bengal chief minister has sharpened her attacks on the Hindutva camp in recent weeks. During a visit to Jangalmahal, she indirectly blamed the BJP for the communal violence that shook four urban areas in four different districts during the between Dussera and Muharram.
With the Samajwadi Party embroiled in a bitter family feud and Jayalalithaa just recovering, political analysts believe that this may be the opportune time for Mamata to take the lead in bringing all anti-BJP parties together and may even lead the alliance.