When the results for the West Bengal elections were being declared on May 2, all eyes were on Prashant Kishor’s prognostication that BJP won’t cross the three-digit mark. Before May 2, people were finding it difficult to believe his claim and even exit polls had something else to say. However, people intended to ignore the groundwork done by Prashant Kishor and his I-PAC team as the saffron party put up a brave fight in the high-octane polls and even managed to grab the place of the main opposition party in the West Bengal assembly. Elated with I-PAC’s performance, the TMC renewed its agreement with I-PAC till the 2026 polls. On the other hand, the Bengal assembly poll results were a schadenfreude moment for the CPI which was wiped out of the Bengal assembly but tried to find solace in the BJP’s loss as the saffron party was left far behind Amit Shah’s claim of winning 200 seats.
However, this month, it became clear that Mamata Banerjee-led TMC is not just eyeing the 2026 Bengal elections but also the 2022 Tripura elections where a weak CPI-M is lagging in taking on the BJP effectively. Recently, a team of I-PAC visited Tripura to take stock of the ground situation and gauge the potential support base for the TMC. They were detained in their hotel room by the Agartala police for allegedly flouting Covid norms. Soon after the news, senior TMC leader and MP Derek O’Brien reached Tripura to help the I-PAC team. The party had also rushed Bratya Basu, Moloy Ghatak and Ritabrata Banerjee to Tripura to aid the I-PAC members. The prominence accorded to the I-PAC team by the TMC has clearly shown that the TMC is standing rock solid behind their extended political arm and will try to cash on even smaller issues to gain political ground in Tripura.
Notably, the TMC had ceded ground to the BJP in Tripura in 2017 when all its six MLAs led by Sudip Roy Burman had joined the saffron party. The alleged attack on the visiting TMC leaders by the BJP workers and targeting of the I-PAC members have helped West Bengal’s ruling party regain some of the lost ground in the state. While the political leaders are considering the TMC as a challenger to the BJP, the CPI-M is not finding a mention in the recent political developments. Last month, 7 Congress leaders including former state minister Prakash Chandra Das, former MLA Subal Bhowmik and Panna Deb had switched over to the TMC. Earlier this month, around 30 workers from the Congress and the BJP joined the TMC. Buoyant from the victory in Bengal polls and several leaders joining the TMC, the party has got a new lease of life in the state.
The BJP, which first termed the TMC an insignificant force and a non-threat in Tripura, has now trained its guns at the TMC, giving the party the much-needed attention it was looking for in Tripura. TMC MP and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who was also attacked in Tripura allegedly by BJP workers, claimed that some BJP leaders including ministers and MLAs were in touch with the TMC and may join them ahead of elections. The party also got a shot in the arm when senior Congress leader Susmita Dev joined the TMC. Notably, Dev’s father late Santosh Mohan Dev was a two-time MP from Tripura and was instrumental in helping the Congress to win the 1988 assembly elections. Sushmita Dev had visited Tripura several times in the past and is a known face in the state.
While the TMC is planning to take the BJP head-on, the CPI-M has failed to put up a solid challenge to the BJP in Tripura. The main reason behind it could be the drying fund flow for the Left party. With the TMC emerging as a key opponent in Tripura, the state can prove to be the next milestone after Bengal in fulfilling Mamata Banerjee’s national ambition.