Recovering from initial shock over the arrest of its leaders on corruption charges, the Trinamool Congress has decided to launch a “political battle” against the BJP’s alleged conspiracy to weaken the party.
The party will hold rallies and processions across the state from August 16, the day the TMC has been observing as ‘Khela Hobe Divas’ since last year.
Khela Hobe (the game is on) was the battle cry of the TMC in last year’s high-voltage assembly elections. After the party came back to power for the third time trouncing the BJP, it decided to “immortalise” its successful political slogan by dedicating a day to it.
Last year, the day was observed by organising sporting events across the state.
This year, it will be a different ball game.
For the first time since it came to power in 2011, the TMC appears weak and vulnerable, besieged by sustained attacks from the opposition parties, who are going all guns blazing dubbing it as a party of corrupts.
The CPI(M), the BJP and the Congress have been regularly hitting the streets protesting corruption in the TMC regime ever since its Bengal unit general secretary and senior minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on July 23.
That the protests put the spotlight on alleged corruption in the ruling Trinamool is becoming evident from the response they are getting.
Initially, the TMC had decided to face the challenge by distancing itself from the arrested leaders, maintaining that the party had nothing to do with ‘misdeeds” of any of its members.
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“The strategy did not work as the opposition took advantage of our silence to win the perception battle. They (opposition) are now alleging that even Mamata Banerjee is corrupt. It has dented the morale of our party workers,” admitted a TMC MLA.
In a bid to turn the tables, the party will now go on a counter offensive by playing the victim card.
“The idea is to rejuvenate demoralised party workers and to change the perception the opposition is trying to create,” said the TMC leader.
The theme of the protest programmes lined up by the TMC will be how the central agencies are being misused to target its leaders just because the TMC has been “most vocal” against the BJP.
The call for the “political battle” was given by the party supremo herself.
As per the plan, in every block, TMC workers will organise rallies, street-corner meetings and processions to convey to the people that it was not guilty but the victim of a “larger conspiracy” hatched by the BJP, said the MLA.
On September 8, Mamata Banerjee will hold a mega meeting of party’s booth-level workers in Kolkata to rejuvenate their spirit, he added.
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Unlike in the case of Partha Chatterjee, the party has also decided to stand by its another arrested leader Anubrata Mandal. Mondal was arrested last week in connection with an alleged cattle smuggling case and remanded to CBI custody for 10 days.
“Why did you arrest Keshto (Mandal’s nickname)? What was his fault? If they arrest one Keshto, thousands of Kestos will be produced on the streets… He’s a good leader who never sought anything for himself,” Mamata said addressing party supporters on Sunday.
A day after the party chairperson backed him, Mandal said he regained his self-confidence and claimed that he is innocent.
“I have been falsely implicated… I have not done anything wrong. But after didi (Mamata Banerjee) stood by me, I have regained my self-confidence,” Mandal’s lawyer Anirban Guha Thakurta quoted his client as saying.
It’s now to be seen whether the TMC supporters also regain confidence following the party’s strategy shift on the issue of corruption.