West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today resolved to make "Bengal better and stronger each day" and thanked her grass-root workers and its three ideological anchors, "Maa, Mati, and Manush", as the Trinamool Congress turned 23 years old. The anniversary comes, perhaps, at one of the party's most turbulent periods as the state heads for legislative polls in only a few months.
"Maa, Mati, and Manush" - or "Mother, Land, People" - has been the party's emotional war cry all along since its founding.
"As Trinamool turns 23 today, I look back at the journey we began on January 1st, 1998. Our years have been of immense struggle, but throughout this time we have continued to achieve our objective of being committed to the cause of only the people," Ms Banerjee tweeted on New Year's Day.
Although the party was founded in 1998 by Ms Banerjee after splitting away from the Indian National Congress after over 25 years of association, it tasted a major electoral success only in 2011, when it displaced the Left Front government by winning an absolute majority of seats in the state assembly. The left had, by then, ruled the state for 34 years.
The intervening years between the TMC's founding and its rise to power were replete with political struggle and ground-level churn in the state, as symbolised by the Nandigram movement against forceful land acquisition.
However, only a decade after it rose to power, the party is now faced with the BJP's unprecedented rise in West Bengal. The national party now hopes to displace the Trinamool in the legislatively polls scheduled for April-May this year.
"On #TMCFoundationDay, I extend my sincere gratitude to our Maa-Mati-Manush and all our workers who continue to fight with us in making Bengal better and stronger each day. The Trinamool family will carry on with this resolve for times to come!" Ms Banerjee wrote today, effusing confidence.
Yet, nobody is to say yet what effect the flurry of desertions from her flock towards the BJP may have on the upcoming polls.
Today, marking its foundation day, Trinamool parliamentarian and West Bengal party president, Subrata Bakshi, hoisted the party flag at its headquarters at 9.30 am. "A most crucial election lies ahead of us in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is fighting to save the country's constitution," Mr Bakshi said. "Until the party trying to destroy the constitution is removed from power, this fight led by Mamata Banerjee will continue."
Derek O Brien, another Trinamool MP, read out Ms Banerjee's message for party workers.