The Trinamool Congress is "a force to reckon" within all the new electoral geographies it is now trying to enter, West Bengal's ruling party said on Wednesday. Its expansion is the need of the hour because people are looking for an alternative, its spokesperson said.
This seemingly confident stance came amid the Trinamool's recent ventures into the northeast and Goa, among other states. The party, according to its newest Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev, feels its leader Mamata Banerjee offers a whole bunch of qualities and ideological stands that most of the voters opposed to the BJP are today looking for.
"Mamata Banerjee's face counts. She stands for credibility. She stands for good governance. She stands for inclusive politics. All of which the anti-BJP vote-bank wants," Ms Dev, who left the Congress and joined the Trinamool a little over a month ago, told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
"Of course, you can't take electoral politics for granted. Things can go wrong. We are very very optimistic and confident that...we will help in every way to block the Bharatiya Janata Party," she said.
Ms Dev, daughter of former Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, was yesterday declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal. She is a former Lok Sabha MP from Silchar, Assam.
The Trinamool leader pointed out two political dynamics: The BJP doesn't have a presence in every state. And then there are some states in which the BJP is in a direct fight with the Congress party.
"On the other hand, there are many states where the Congress is absolutely nowhere. For a few examples...Odisha, they are finished, they are zero. Tripura, they are nowhere. In most of the northeast states, they are nowhere. And the latest addition is Assam," Ms Dev said.
"The question is somebody has to fill up that vacuum, for two reasons: It is politically the need of the hour and, two, people want an alternative."
So, she raised the question, how is all of this going to come together and pan out ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election? Answering the question from her party's viewpoint, Ms Dev said it will focus on the state polls in 2022 and 2023 first.
"I can only speak for All India Trinamool Congress. They are going (to some poll-bound states) after doing proper surveys, knowing that wherever they are going, they can block the BJP and not harm the other opposition," Ms Dev said.
"I can't reveal too much. But we have done our homework and we will be a force to reckon with (in Goa). We have been in a dialogue with people for several months," she said, fully appreciating the Aam Admi Party also venturing into the coastal state.
When asked if the Congress party was still in opposition as a political force, she said a lot depends on who is going to be the face of the opposition in that state.