How Bengal minister's derogatory remarks against President Murmu will hurt TMC

Sayantan Ghosh
21 Nov 2022
How Bengal minister's derogatory remarks against President Murmu will hurt TMC

Akhil Giri (Left); Suvendu Adhikari (Right)

Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal, has publicly apologised for one of Bengal's important ministers' disparaging remarks about President Draupadi Murmu in an unprecedented move. The minister who made these remarks is named Akhil Giri.

Giri is a trusted confidant of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, not just a random MLA or minister in the TMC government. Giri is the most effective grassroots TMC politician from the East Midnapore district after Suvendu Adhikari left the TMC to join the Bharatiya Janata party and was elected as the new leader of the opposition.

The Nandigram movement, which is a part of this district, is where Mamata Banerjee launched her massive campaign against the left-front government in the past.

However, the entire Trinamool Congress is upset about Giri's remarks. However, sources have confirmed that the top leadership, including Mamata Banerjee and party all India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, have expressed their displeasure and concern over the incident. The party has maintained a strong front during media appearances and in public. The Trinamool Congress has experienced repeated failures, which have contributed to widespread social unrest in various spheres of society in the past few months.

Under the direction of the Calcutta High Court, the Central agencies have looked into and exposed a number of significant frauds in Bengal over the course of the last year. Several top TMC officials have been arrested in connection with these scams, including the party's suspended secretary general Partha Chatterjee, district president of Birbhum, Anubrata Mandal, and MLA Manik Bhattacharya.

A TMC leader noted, "The entire SSC scam as well as other teacher recruitment scams have given young people the wrong impression of the TMC. The Adivasis, Dalits, and women are currently our main focus groups for the upcoming Panchayat elections. Every leader has a duty to comprehend the current political environment the TMC is experiencing. Statements of this nature are harmful to the party and could severely harm us."

Who is Akhil Giri

One of Mamata Banerjee's most dependable lieutenants is Akhil Giri. In the 1970s, he began his political career alongside Banerjee with the Congress party. Along with Mamata Banerjee, Giri was a member of the Chatra Parishad. From the beginning of the TMC, Akhil Giri has been a member. Giri stood by Mamata Banerjee during the mid-1990s power struggle between her and the Bengal branch of the Congress party and later joined the TMC in 1998. He first ran for office in the East Midnapore Ram Nagar constituency in the 2006 assembly elections, but the CPIM won.

After Suvendu Adhikari joined the BJP and took over as the opposition's leader, Mamata Banerjee assigned Giri the duty of managing the neighbourhood. Suvendu Adhikari has always been more prominent within the TMC. In order to ensure the party's overwhelming victory in East Midnapore, he did not miss this opportunity. From this district, nine of the 16 assembly seats were won by Mamata Banerjee's party. After Adhikari switched to the BJP and defeated Mamata Banerjee in the Nandigram election, East Midnapore was turned into a key battleground and arena for intra-party animosity between the TMC and BJP.

Tribal vote shift

The TMC sources have confirmed that the party's tribal vote bank has transformed over the last few years into a floating one. For instance, tribals supported the TMC in the 2021 Bengal assembly election while supporting the BJP during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The census estimates that 8% of Bengal's population are tribal people. The tribal population is dispersed among numerous significant assembly seats, though. The tribals make up a sizable portion of the electorate in Bengal's Jangalmahal region.

In Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, and West Midnapore, tribal people predominate. In a similar vein, there are sizable numbers of tribal people in North Bengal. The tribal population is significant in Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, and Kalimpong. Along with North and South Dinajpur, tribal populations play a significant role in the Malda district in terms of vote share.

Notably, the Bharatiya Janata party won every seat in the Jangalmahal region and in north Bengal during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Later in the assembly elections, though, things changed, and tribal votes.

A Senior TMC MP on the condition of anonymity said, "The tribal people previously supported the left front. However, they continued to have faith in the TMC after we took office due to our sustained development of the community. Unexpectedly, in 2019, the BJP received a larger share of the tribal vote. Although they supported the TMC in the Bengal assembly elections of 2021, we think that this vote share is now split between the two parties. Every Indian tribal person has a special place in their heart for President Droupadi Murmu. This is why we shouldn't permit the BJP to run a campaign against us based on statements of this kind, which are arbitrary and poorly reasoned."

Women factor

The TMC leaders claim that the party is also frightened because Bengal's female voters are a crucial support base for the TMC. Since taking office, Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal, has made significant progress toward empowering women. The party has developed a number of financial programmes specifically for Bengal's female population. For instance, direct fund transfer-based programmes like Kanyashree, Rupashree, Lakshmi Bhandar, and others strengthened TMC's base of support.

The senior leader further said, "While there is no question about Mamata Banerjee's popularity among all segments of the electorate, particularly women, the opposition's ongoing campaign based on the alleged teacher recruitment scams may have an effect on women as well. In recent months, it has become clear that many of the applicants who have suffered as a result of these alleged scams are female. We also recognise that the younger generation is unsatisfied with our party. Mamata Banerjee has pledged to make accommodations for every candidate who passed the teacher recruitment exams with the appropriate rank and merit. But by inciting these protests and bringing numerous legal cases, the opposition continues to smear our reputation."

Losing control

Also noteworthy is the fact that the party is currently concerned about discontent among the leadership. A sizeable portion of TMC leaders thinks that such claims demonstrate that some of the leaders are not adhering to Mamata Banerjee's established party line. Several prominent figures, including TMC Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, senior MLA Tapas Roy, and many others, have openly defied party lines and made several public statements in recent months. The TMC does not want to foster an atmosphere where the public feels that Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee have lost control over the party leaders before the Panchayat elections.

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