Trinamool Congress: Counting 35 and more to be key player (Election Special)
An air of quiet confidence pervades the Trinamool Congress office here as the party headed by "Didi", West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, makes a determined bid to go national and become a major player in government formation.
The party is contesting 100 seats across India this time and is aiming to win "35 plus seats", to become, in Banerjee's own words, the "third largest party" in India.
The Trinamool is fielding 25 candidates in Uttar Pradesh, where the party already has an assembly member in Shyam Sundar Sharma, as well as contesting in Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, the entire northeast and even down south in Kerala.
"In five UP seats we have fielded very strong candidates and are expecting to win one seat," a senior Trinamool official told IANS declining to be named. The five seats where the party is confident of giving a tough fight are Moradabad, Hamirpur, Unnao, Mirzapur and Lucknow.
The party is fielding seven candidates in Haryana, nine in Kerala and five in Delhi.
Why in Kerala?
"Wherever there is CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) the Trinamool will always be born (to defeat it)," a Trinamool official, a close aide of Banerjee who is in charge of affairs in Delhi and the region, told IANS.
He said the party expects to get "respectable number of votes" in its debut in Kerala.
The Trinamool ousted the Left from its bastion of power in West Bengal after 34 years. The party has expressed confidence of winning 35 of the 42 seats in Bengal.
"Besides the 35 seats in Bengal, any other seat that we win elsewhere would add to our tally," he said. Banerjee has said during a rally in West Bengal on Monday that her party would "control" the new government at the centre.
At the party office in Delhi's South Avenue, huge bags full of thousands of caps, banners and buntings with the party logo are handed out to cadres and candidates fighting the April 7-May 12 Lok Sabha elections.
On what plank is the Trinamool appealing to voters outside West Bengal?
"We tell people about the way Didi has worked to change things in Bengal, where fear was rampant during the CPI-M rule. Now people in rural areas move around without fear, the police are accountable. It is a 'bhoy mukto' (free of fear) state today. Also the way Didi has stood by the poor," said the official, who has been closely associated with the Trinamool since its fight against the Left in Nandigram.
In Delhi, two of the seven candidates had their nominations rejected, leaving the party with five candidates, including old time Bollywood star Biswajeet.
The party is the only one to have fielded two Muslim candidates in Delhi, Md. Syed Siddiqui from East Delhi and Md. Arif from North East Delhi.
"In the history of elections in Delhi, no party has ever fielded two Muslim candidates. The Trinamool is the only one to have done so," said the official.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 03-04-2014)