The detention of Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC team in Tripura may come as a shot in the arm for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC), which is looking to expand its base in the Northeastern state. Tripura is also in the TMC’s list of states where they want to widen their reach, considering it has a huge Bengali-speaking population. Tripura is also labelled as West Bengal’s ‘sister state’.
Keeping in mind the 2023 Tripura elections, the TMC has started its groundwork with I-PAC visiting the state last week to conduct field research and assess if the ruling party in Bengal has the potential to expand its base in the state. But the fact that the 23-member I-PAC team were kept under house arrest and summoned by the local police may prove to be an encouraging stimulus to the TMC, helping it to spread its wings there.
On Wednesday, two of Mamata’s ministers, Bratya Basu and Moloy Ghatak, and Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee reached Tripura. They will be joined by TMC MP Derek O’ Brien and Lok Sabha MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar on Thursday.
“Democracy is totally at stake. This is fascist government. We will protest and we know that they are scared,” Basu said earlier in the day.
On Thursday, the TMC team will first visit Mathabari to offer prayers, following which they will meet the I-PAC team. The TMC members will then hold an organisational meeting. On Friday, TMC’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee will arrive in the state to protest against the I-PAC team’s house arrest, making the party’s presence even stronger.
Political observers say that the detention of the I-PAC team followed by a police summon will help the TMC gain people’s sympathy, thereby helping the party grow its base in the state.
The 23-member team was under house arrest for over 48 hours till Tuesday night, after it was asked by the police to stay inside the hotel. All members of the team were forced to undergo RT-PCR tests and released late on Tuesday night only after the reports came negative. The team was also served notices to appear in the police station on August 1 and 2.