Trinamool Congress has a right to expand outside West Bengal, senior party leader and Member of Parliament Saugata Roy tells H Khogen Singh. After having tasted success in Meghalaya, he revealed that Trinamool is in talks with other parties in the Northeast to increase its footprint in the region.
Trinamool has become the second-largest party in Meghalaya after 12 Congress MLAs joined your party. What else are you planning in the Northeast?
We are in talks with many parties all over the Northeast and we definitely plan to induct more people. We will also contest the elections in Manipur where polls are due in February next year. But which parties we are in touch with and with whom I cannot reveal at this moment. We are working on a plan in the Northeast, you will get to know when developments take place.
In Tripura, your party contested the ongoing municipal elections. How do you think you will perform?
We are making full-fledged efforts in Tripura and we want to do well there but the Bharatiya Janata Party and its government have been totally high-handed and are making all efforts to halt our progress. In many municipalities, our candidates could not even file their nomination papers because of the violence unleashed by BJP. Even in Agartala there was violence despite the Supreme Court’s directive to ensure free and fair voting. The state police did not do anything to stop this, they did not act.
You were recently in Delhi with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and inducted many leaders. What is the game plan of the Trinamool?
There is no game plan, we are only inducting people from other parties who want to join us. Many people approached us in Delhi that they would like to join so we took them in. Should we say no to people who want to join?
Is your party trying to become an alternative to Congress?
No, we don’t have such plans. But at the same time, don’t we have the right to expand outside West Bengal? What is wrong if we want to have a presence in other states, why should we confine ourselves to West Bengal only?
There is a feeling in some quarters that by expanding you are damaging the Congress and indirectly benefiting the BJP and its allies.
No, our expansion plans are not aimed at Congress nor will it benefit the BJP. How can it benefit BJP, we are fighting them in Tripura. If people have this impression we cannot help it, let them say what they want. The decision to spread elsewhere was taken after the elections in West Bengal. That is what we are doing.
But don’t you think by inducting leaders from other parties you are damaging Opposition unity?
No. Why should it damage opposition unity? We are only taking in people who have come to us. We are inducting people only for our growth and it is not targeted at others.
What are your prospects in Goa?
We are working very hard in Goa, our workers have spread out everywhere. We are new to the state, so it will be difficult. But we are trying our best. Let’s see what happens.
Your CM and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal enjoy a good equation. Don’t you think your entry there will hurt the AAP?
The AAP is a separate party, so let them also contest. Also, the relationship between my CM and the Delhi CM will not get affected by our decision to contest elections in Goa. These things happen in politics.