TMC’s over-reliance on Didi may backfire

It is no secret that ever since TMC’s inception in 1998, Mamata has been the only crowd-puller and mass leader of the party. But TMC’s setback in the Lok Sabha elections has raised several questions on the practicality of its absolute dependence on Mamata. (PTI File Photo)

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is facing the toughest political challenge from the BJP since it came to power in West Bengal in 2011. But it is totally dependent on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to counter the resurgent saffron party in the state.

Ever since the BJP stunned the TMC in the state by winning 18 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, Mamata has been spoon-feeding party leaders and workers on issues ranging from increasing public outreach to recalibrating TMC’s strategy.

It is no secret that ever since TMC’s inception in 1998, Mamata has been the only crowd-puller and mass leader of the party. But TMC’s setback in the Lok Sabha elections has raised several questions on the practicality of its absolute dependence on Mamata.

Mamata is also aware of this. Her apparent frustration came out a couple of months ago when she told party leaders at a meeting, “It's really difficult to manage everything on my own. You will realise it the hard way when I am not there anymore.”

The TMC supremo’s decision to appoint poll strategist Prashant Kishor to revamp her party’s image and boost its organisation indicates that she does not want to depend on her party leaders.

The discontent against local TMC leaders among the public became a major embarrassment for her party following Mamata's instruction to local leaders to return cut money (bribe to access government schemes). Scores of them faced public protest. Although in a face-saving measure TMC issued a statement that her comment was being misinterpreted, the BJP is continuing to capitalise on the issue.

“Her leadership qualities are beyond doubt. But it is not possible for one person to look after every small or big issue in an entire state. Instead of leaving all problems for her our party leaders should become more active,” a senior TMC leader said.

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