Kolkata: Since 26 July, when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in New Delhi for a five-day visit, there has been a shift in the Trinamool Congress’ social media activity.
While the Trinamool Congress chief has denied having any national ambitions, the party’s handles are replete with posters that seek to portray Mamata as PM Narendra Modi’s direct rival in 2024.
The accompanying slogans are a take on poll pitches crafted by Team Modi for his two prime ministerial campaigns in 2014 and 2019 — a deliberate bid that, according to party leaders, is aimed at “reminding” people of the promises Modi “failed to keep”.
There is “Ab Ki Baar Didi Sarkar (vote for a government led by Didi this time)”, against the BJP’s “Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar”, “Sachhe Din Aane Waale Hain (honest days are around the corner)”, derived from “Achche Din Aane Waale Hain (good days are around the corner)”, and “Bengal Model”, which is a take on the BJP’s constant evocation of the “Gujarat Model”, meant as a testament to Modi’s performance as CM of the western state.
The posters have been shared on social media by senior leaders of the Trinamool Congress as well as state ministers.
— Manas Ranjan Bhunia (@mpmanasofficial) July 29, 2021
— FIRHAD HAKIM (@FirhadHakim) July 29, 2021
With the party riding high on its third consecutive victory in West Bengal this year, despite the high-stakes campaign unleashed by the BJP’s top guns, senior Trinamool leaders describe Mamata as a “Modi-slayer”.
They chalk up Mamata’s remarks in Delhi, that she had no PM aspirations but wanted to help people choose the right candidate, to her “courteous nature”. Mamata, they say, is the only formidable face to “stitch and lead an Opposition front” against Modi.
“The stage is ready for Didi to take over. There is no other leader who can stand up to the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo,” Bengal Minister Maloy Ghatak, a close colleague of Mamata, told ThePrint.
“She did it in Bengal and got a huge mandate. She is capable of doing it in the national elections too. We have seen the excitement among the general public when she was in Delhi.”
Ghatak, who serves as Bengal law minister, accompanied Mamata on her trip to Delhi, where she met senior leaders of different parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and called for Opposition unity against Modi in 2024.
‘Positive response to Didi’
Mamata used the slogan ‘Sachhe Din‘ while in Delhi, saying the country will soon see them.
Talking about the new Trinamool slogans, a party leader said they have been “crafted in an identical manner (to the BJP’s) to remind the people what Modi did not deliver”.
“He promised Achhe Din, but Didi is promising Sachhe Din. People need to have a transparent government, which Didi can bring,” said the top Trinamool leader, who did not want to be named.
Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee, who represented the party at the Opposition meeting hosted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Delhi Tuesday, said “this is just the beginning”.
“Since Didi visited Delhi and met senior leaders, including Sonia ji, Rahul ji and others, we got a very positive response. Didi has said there will be a battle, and we are all soldiers. This is just the beginning. The talks were very fruitful today,” he told The Print after the breakfast meeting.
Last week, Kalyan Banerjee had referred to Mamata as the face of the Opposition. “See, we will always want our leader to become the leader of the country. That is our emotion. But we cannot say this politically,” he said Tuesday. “So, the leader will be chosen by the people in the days to come.”
‘Only substitute to Modi’
Trinamool Congress State General Secretary Kunal Ghosh said Mamata is the only “substitute” to Modi.
“There is no other leader who has such a strong mass appeal. She is the only substitute to Modi, and capable of leading the country. Look at her illustrious political career. She is a seven-term MP, four-term Union minister, which includes the rail ministry, and three-term chief minister,” he added. “Modi was just a four-term chief minister when he was projected as PM candidate in 2014. Mamata Banerjee has better credentials,” he said.
Referring to her national aspirations remarks, Ghosh added that “mass leaders like her are always courteous and kind in nature”.
“The people of Bengal and the country want her to be seen as the PM. She proved that she is the only one who can beat Modi in a fair game. She single-handedly slayed Modi-Shah, their army of saffronites, RSS and central agencies that exercise political vendetta.”
The Trinamool Congress, he said, will take part in every state election that takes place before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
A second senior leader who didn’t wish to be identified said the Trinamool had the support of “many political parties” on Mamata.
“It is true that the anti-BJP front cannot be stitched without the Congress, but we are not giving unnecessary importance to Rahul Gandhi,” the leader added. “If one sees his record in state and general elections, the graph of the Congress will be seen declining. On the contrary, see Didi’s. She is the most experienced and sharpest in the Opposition.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)