In a significant political development, former president Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday.
At around 4pm, Mukherjee joined the ruling TMC in presence of party MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay and party secretary general Partha Chatterjee at Trinamool Bhavan in Kolkata.
“I would like to thank Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee for giving me this opportunity. I came from one Congress to another Congress,” he said soon after his induction into the TMC fold.
Mukherjee claimed that the alliance with the Left Front in the 2021 assembly polls was a bad decision and this is the reason the party could not win a single seat. The Left Front was also decimated as the party drew a blank.
Hinting at both Mamata and her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, he further said, “I am a disciplined soldier and I will work on the instruction of my captain.”
“The Pradesh (state) Congress was not utilising me in any manner… I was being bypassed for every political programme… I thought it fit to join the Trinamool because Mamata Banerjee has clearly emerged as the most trusted face against the BJP," he said.
On Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Mukherjee said, “He is a gentleman and he actually wants Congress to survive. Unfortunately, the Congress party is not utilising his thoughts and vision in the right direction. In Bengal, the way the Congress party is functioning is not acceptable.”
“In this election in Bengal, people’s mandate clearly showed that it is only Mamata Banerjee who can take on the BJP at the national level. Recently, I called up Mamata Banerjee and expressed my willingness to join TMC and also urged her to name a road and a park in my father’s name in Bengal.”
“The manner in which Mamata Banerjee resisted BJP’s onslaught in Bengal was appreciated by all non-BJP forces across the country. She championed the anti-BJP cause in the country and I felt that I should strengthen her hand and be part of this party,” Mukherjee added.
Asked whether his father (if alive) would have allowed him to join TMC or not, he said, “What Sonia Gandhi has done for Rahul Gandhi, has Pranab Babu done for us? My father was a neutral person and he would say that the decision is yours. In the past too, I got this opportunity (to join another party), but I didn’t consider my father’s respect.”
Asked about his sister Sharmistha, who is with Congress, Abhijit said, “You should ask her about her position on this, not me. She is a free and individual entity and she is capable of making decisions for herself."
Mukherjee’s sister Sarmistha, a Congress leader, in a Twitter post called the day’s development as “SAD!!!”
Reached for comment, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “In the morning, he resigned from all the posts in the Congress party. I didn’t have a word with him. What can I say about his resignation from the Congress party? Anyone can join any party; I have nothing to comment here.”
His Political Journey
In the 2012 bypoll, Abhijit Mukherjee had won the Jangipur parliamentary seat in Murshidabad district after his father Pranab Mukherjee vacated the seat after becoming the 13th President of India.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, he once again won the seat by defeating CPI (M) candidate Muzaffar Hussain by 8,161 votes.
However, his luck ran into rough weather after he lost the seat in 2019 Lok Sabha polls to TMC’s Khalilur Rahaman, who secured 56,2838 votes. BJP’s Mafuja Khatun stood second and Mukherjee came third.
Political experts feel that since then Mukherjee was looking for a political space in Bengal. It is expected that Mukherjee, who was an MLA from Nalhati in 2011, might be offered the Jangipur assembly seat, which is due for a bypoll as the candidate, Revolutionary Socialist Party’s Pradip Kumar Nandi, had passed away just before the elections.
The Election Commission (EC) at the time had adjourned the polling at the Jangipur constituency, which was scheduled on April 26 during the seventh phase of the elections.
Mukherjee graduated with a B.E in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University in 1984. He worked as a corporate executive for firms like Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Maruti Udyog Limited and the Steel Authority of India Limited. He was a General Manager in-charge of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Steel Authority of India Limited.
In April 10, 2019, while criticising the Congress for coming to a political understanding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Mamata Banerjee had claimed that the RSS is helping Abhijit Mukherjee to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Jangipur.
Addressing a public meeting at Chopra in North Dinajpur district, Banerjee had said, “Our mission is to oust the BJP from Bengal. I would like to tell you that even the Congress has a secret political understanding with the BJP… both are the same. The RSS is helping Pranab Mukherjee’s son and Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to win this Lok Sabha election from Jangipur and Baharampur.”
With Congress’s political footprint in Bengal getting virtually wiped off in the recently concluded state polls and the two siblings of the Mukherjee family now settling on the opposite ends of a political divide as far as the state is concerned, it remains to be seen in whose hands Pranab Mukherjee’s political legacy truly rests.