Former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, along with 11 of the 17 Congress MLAs in the state, has joined the Trinamool Congress in a huge coup for Bengal’s ruling party in the northeast. The Meghalaya MLAs have already written to the assembly speaker Metbah Lyngdoh regarding this. The assembly has 60 seats.
The induction — which made Trinamool the principal opposition party in the state — came as the party chief Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi and candidly spoke of her plans for a united opposition.
Over the last couple of months, the Trinamool has been on an expansion mode — most of it at the cost of the Congress.
Ms Banerjee, known to share a cordial relationship with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, has not met her this time, although there was a buzz about a meeting.
Asked about the matter, the Trinamool chief flared up. She had sought no appointment with Sonia Gandhi, as “they are busy with Punjab polls”, Ms Banerjee said. Then she pointedly added, “Why should we meet Sonia every time? It is not constitutionally mandated”.
The Trinamool has been trying to expand its footprint in Tripura and Goa with an eye to the next round of assembly elections in these states.
In Tripura, the party has been at loggerheads with the state’s ruling BJP ahead of tomorrow’s civic elections. In Goa, it is banking on Luizinho Faleiro, the state’s former Chief Minister.
Yesterday, Ms Banerjee’s party made three key acquisitions – that gave her a toehold in at least two more states – Haryana and Punjab.
Besides Team India batsman Kirti Azad, former Rahul Gandhi aide Ashok Tanwar, and Rajya Sabha MP Pawan Verma for Janata Dal United, who fell out with his boss Nitish Kumar.
The earlier Congress entrants in the party included late president Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee, Sushmita Dev, the former Congress MP from Silchar and daughter of late Congress stalwart Santosh Mohan Dev.
In Delhi today, Ms Banerjee — whose massive victory in the April-May assembly elections in Bengal had set off a buzz about her spearheading the opposition challenge to the BJP in the 2024 general elections – said she was willing to help oust the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
She said she would visit Varanasi – PM Modi’s Lok Sabha constitution – and the big opposition hub of Mumbai to meet Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.