Mamata Banerjee’s unprecedented coup in Meghalaya – the joining of 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs led by Mukul Sangma last evening – began with a meeting between electoral strategist Prashant Kishore and a senior Congress leader. In a press conference earlier today, Mr Sangma shared that he had met Mr Kishore in Kolkata because he was a “good friend … who can make a difference”.
Mr Sangma said it started after the central leadership elected Vincent Pal as head of the party’s state unit.
“Democracy needs to be balanced. We need an effective opposition party,” Mr Sangma said. “We raised it with the leadership in Delhi. We traveled a lot in Delhi, but nothing happened.Yes, Whom we all know, who can make a difference. I am very happy to announce that when we interacted, we shared the same objective – public interest transcends everything, “said Mr Sangma.
Mr. Kishore – who created Mamata Banerjee’s campaign for the April-May state elections that led to a resounding victory – is now taking her to the national stage.
The electoral strategist, who said after Mamata Banerjee’s landslide victory that he would “leave the post” – is known for getting along well with the grassroots leader and considers himself his political ally. After the election, he said, “It was a great pleasure to work with him. He is very accepting of advice and very happy to work with.”
Many believe that Mrs. Banerjee will now stand as the face of the opposition – a position made possible by the Bengal result, where she took the BJP’s strong electoral machinery and won with a spade.
So far, Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress has been seen as a target in Tripura ahead of the next round of assembly elections in 2023. But last evening’s events made it clear that Meghalaya and the rest of the Northeast were also on his shopping list.
Sources have indicated that Mr Kishore’s electoral strategy team is in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, to prepare the Trinamool Congress for the 2023 Assembly elections.
Meghalaya is the latest state where the grassroots has entered an expansion mode over the last few months. In Assam, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana, it has affected the price of Congress.
His acquisition list last week includes Luizinho Faleiro in Goa, Ashok Tanwar, a former ally of Rahul Gandhi in Haryana, and Pawan Verma, a former leader of Janata Dal United in Bihar.
In Delhi yesterday, Mamata Banerjee openly invited any leader who wants to join the grassroots in the fight against the BJP. Asked about a possible meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, he questioned whether it was “compulsory”.
Mr. Kishore did not hide his restraint about the Congress. In his last criticism in October – a few weeks after the talk of his entry into Congress cooled – he said that the BJP was not going anywhere and that Jituk or Haruk would be “at the center of Indian politics”.