- Mamata Banerjee is set to visit New Delhi next week.
- She takes over the Parliament party post from MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
- Very few leaders have headed Parliamentary party without being elected.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be the new chairperson of the parliamentary party of the Trinamool Congress, MP Derek O'Brien announced on Friday, ahead of her visit to New Delhi next week that is expected to lay the groundwork for a greater national focus for the fiery regional leader.
Taking over from MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Ms Banerjee will be among the few political leaders who have headed the parliamentary contingent of their party without being elected to the parliament. In 1998, Sonia Gandhi had led the Congress parliamentary party when she became chief of the party.
"Mamata Banerjee will become our Trinamool parliamentary party chairperson. This is a reality we are formalising. Mamata Banerjee is a seven-time MP. She was already guiding the parliamentary party. This is a strategic decision," Mr O'Brien said at a news conference in Delhi.
The announcement comes in the midst of a stormy parliament session that has already seen Trinamool MP Dr Santanu Sen face action for tearing up IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw's response to the Pegasus snooping scandal.
Speaking about the disruptions and opposition uproar, the Trinamool leader said, "We want parliament to run. We want two or three issues to be discussed. Pegasus issue needs to be discussed... We want the farm laws to be repealed."
He said the party was "not bothered" with the suspension of Dr Sen, adding "The people will suspend them (the BJP). Our colleague Mohua (Moitra) has moved a privilege motion (against the suspension)."
Seen by many as the makings of an effort to assume a wider role in national politics and unite the country's disparate opposition against the BJP, Mamata Banerjee's trip to Delhi starting Monday has generated a fair amount of buzz.
Her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, a Trinamool Congress general secretary, has been in Delhi to prep for the visit that will be her first after her huge victory in the Bengal elections against the BJP. She is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as opposition leaders including Sonia Gandhi.