Trinamool Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee visited Tripura on Monday to expand the party’s base in the northeastern state and asserted that the party will end the misrule of BJP and form government in the state in 2023. This prompted the saffron party to ask Banerjee to first ensure ‘" rule of law" in West Bengal, a comment which in turn spurred the TMC to hit back saying the saffron party is suffering from “fear psychosis.
Banerjee held a series of meetings with TMC’s state-level leaders with an eye on the 2023 Tripura assembly polls. “Tripura will be our prime target for the 2023 assembly polls. If needed, I will come here thrice a month to strengthen our party here before the elections. The people here are fed up with the misrule of the BJP," he said addressing a press conference in Agartala.
Banerjee faced fierce protests by BJP workers on his way to Tripureswari temple in Agartala. Following it he said if a parliamentarian is not safe in the state, people are definitely more vulnerable to attacks. Agitators, allegedly bearing allegiance to the saffron party, were seen trying to stop Banerjee in places when he was heading towards the temple in the morning. Many were also heard raising Go back Abhishek’ slogans.
“Democracy in Tripura under @BJP4India rule! Well done @BjpBiplab for taking the state to new heights," Banerjee tweeted sharing a video of the incident. I can clearly understand that common people have no security in the state. I would like to tell the people of Tripura that more they increase their attacks, stronger the TMC will become. We will not leave any stone unturned to topple this anti-people government in Tripura," he said.
Democracy is withering in Tripura, there is no attempt to generate employment for the youth, law and order has completely collapsed … We will restore democracy and deliver good governance as we did in West Bengal," he added. Banerjee further said that he will return to Tripura after a fortnight and announce the formation of a state committee of the TMC and claimed that many MLAs from the state had met the TMC leadership in Kolkata and expressed their willingness to join the camp.
Criticising Chief Minister Biplab Deb over the deterioration in the law and order situation, the TMC MP said the central government “runs him with a remote control". He clarified that his party does not want to break away legislators and disrupt the functioning of the present BJP government.
He appealed to all anti-BJP parties to join hands with the TMC and said, “Any outfit can come join hands with us and revive democracy in Tripura. We shall put up a united fight and form the next government here." Rebutting allegations that his party members attacked the convoy of the TMC MP, Tripura BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said the saffron camp workers were simply staging a protest over the ongoing political violence in West Bengal. The West Bengal BJP declined to attach much importance to his Tripura visit. Let TMC first win at least one MLA seat and then dream of winning in the 2023 state assembly election.
“In democracy every political party has the right to contest elections and dream of expanding the party. Dreaming of a thing and implementing it on the ground are two different things," BJP state spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said in Kolkata. On the attack on Banerjee’s convoy, Bhattacharya said BJP unlike TMC does not support violence.
“We don’t support any form of violence. The Tripura police will indeed look into the incidents related to Banerjee’s visit to that state. But at the same time, we should not forget how our party national president J P Nadda’s convoy was attacked in Bengal by TMC goons in December last year. So before talking about the rule of law in Tripura, TMC should first ensure it in Bengal," he said. TMC West Bengal general secretary Kunal Ghosh countering BJP said the attack on Banerjee’s convoy reflects the “fear psychosis of BJP".
“Why are they (BJP) attacking Abhishek Banerjee’s convoy if they are not considering us a force in the state? The attack confirms that the BJP in Tripura is suffering from fear psychosis. The days of BJP in Tripura are numbered," he said. On allegations of attack on Nadda’s convoy in Bengal last year, Ghosh said “TMC was not involved in it. It was due to infighting in BJP".
Jawhar Sircar, TMC’s newly-elected Rajya Sabha MP from Bengal, criticised BJP government in Tripura for not taking any action against culprits and the police officers responsible for Banerjee’s security. “After the J P Nadda incident (in Bengal) so many IPS officers were transferred or were summoned to Delhi by the Union government. But after the attack on Abhishek Banerjee, nothing of that sort has happened.
This only reflects the double standards of the central government. You have to be unbiased if you want to maintain the balance of law and order," he said. Banerjee’s Tripura visit took place days after the controversy over the alleged detention of poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC team in an Agartala hotel room by the police citing COVID-19 restrictions.
The incident had prompted back-to-back visits by TMC leaders, including West Bengal ministers Bratya Basu and Malay Ghatak and TMC MP Derek O’Brien, who decried the “illegal detention of young boys and girls" of a professional firm. Banerjee told reporters that TMC does not want to break away legislators and disrupt the functioning of the present BJP government in Tripura.
He appealed to all anti-BJP parties to join hands with TMC. “Any outfit can come join hands with us and revive democracy in Tripura. We shall put up a united fight and form the next government here." “The spontaneous response that I have received from people on the way to Tripureswari temple indicates that they are looking for a platform against the BJP. Mark my words, the TMC will form the next government in Tripura for sure," Banerjee asserted.