March 02, 2014

Have pitched camp in Delhi...

I’m rarely in Delhi on Sundays. When Parliament is in session, I tend to fly back to Kolkata on Friday evenings. Sometimes work keeps me back on Saturday, but never on a Sunday. The election season, however, changes us all, and I’ve spent the weekend in Delhi. It’s likely I’ll spend several of the coming weeks (and weekends) in the capital as the most important five-yearly event in the life of our democracy is upon us.

This morning, right after church, I went to the Trinamool office in Delhi and spent several hours on the lawns with our new friends from Team Anna. They were not conventional politicians – in fact they were not politicians at all, one could argue. Yet, their public-spiritedness, their enthusiasm and sheer passion, and their cult-like commitment to their cause was infectious. As they sang songs, it was natural to hum along.

As some of you may know, Mamata Banerjee and Anna Hazare met recently and have agreed to work together. This is not an electoral alliance or anything of the sort, but Anna has graciously offered to campaign for Mamatadi and for Trinamool candidates in the coming election. We believe he will help us expand our footprint.

What is the purpose of focusing energies on a national election and on states beyond Bengal? The question is legitimate but ignores the strides Trinamool has made in regions beyond Bengal. A few months ago, I was sent by Mamatadi to help be a part of the party campaign in Manipur. I was left overwhelmed and impressed by my remarkable colleagues in Imphal. They performed astoundingly. Dismissed as no-hopers, we won seven seats and today Trinamool is the principal opposition party in the Manipur assembly. We also have five MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh and one each in Assam and Uttar Pradesh. This is a small start, but good going for a party that was born only 16 years ago.

Our dream for 2014 is to open our non-Bengal account in the Lok Sabha. We have identified a few seats where the party has a reasonable chance. In West Bengal itself, we are confident Mamatadi’s good governance, credibility of purpose and consistent opposition to the anti-people UPA government, especially in the past two years, will help us win a majority of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. People will decide.

Derek O’Brien
Member of Parliament
Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha and National Spokesperson, Trinamool Congress