A dominant feature that defines almost all the grand coalition constituents is nepotism and invariable succession of the current leaders by their heir-apparent, irrespective of the fact whether they are capable or not. Another such case of succession is Abhishek Banerjee, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s nephew. Last year, Sonali Guha, Deputy Speaker of the West Bengal legislative assembly and a close aide of the TMC chief had said, “We will fight the election in the name of Mamata Banerjee but she may have to spend more time outside the state in the interest of national politics. In her absence, Abhishek Banerjee will take charge of Bengal.” This clearly hinted at how Abhishek Banerjee is the heir-apparent to Mamata Banerjee. The 31-year old TMC leader is an MP from Diamond Harbour and has quickly risen within the Mamata Banerjee led party.
Mamata had launched her nephew on the political landscape in 2011. Since then, he has witnessed an impressive rise within the TMC and has now emerged as the virtual number 2. In fact, Mamata Banerjee has fielded her nephew in important public meetings. It is believed that this signals the West Bengal CM’s intention to groom Abhishek Banerjee to ultimately fill in her shoes.
Though Mamata’s nephew has not interacted much with the media, however, he has made headlines very often. Some of his comments had left the TMC red-faced and embarrassed. But this has not hindered his rise within the TMC. In 2015, his comments about former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s grandson, Siddharth Nath Singh had left the Mamata-led party embarrassed. He had said, “If Lal Bahadur Shastri had known how his grandson would turn out to be, he would remain unmarried.” Even before this controversy had died down, he created another controversy by stating that the students at Jadavpur University were protesting against the Vice-Chancellor in order to secure liberty to have drugs, ganja, and alcohol on campus.
However, there were bigger controversies that had put the TMC in a tight position. While addressing a party event in 2015, Abhishek Banerjee had gone on to make violent threats against those who opposed the TMC. He had said, “In the heart of Delhi, in Parliament and through various protests, Mamata Banerjee and the TMC have proved that if the interests of the people of Bengal are hurt, we will not leave the matter. As long as Mamata is there, if anyone dares to glare at us, we will gouge their eyes out and throw them on the road, if they raise their hands, we’ll cut their arms off.” With this remark, he had openly instigated and promoted the use of active violence in politics.
It is shameful how a leader enjoying considerable influence within the TMC went on to openly defend violence in order to ensure political domination. This also exposed the policy of the TMC to threaten its opposition and suppress all political opposition by use of active violence. Abhishek Banerjee had also embarrassed the TMC by claiming that the Mamata government had killed Kishenji, a Naxal leader. This was in contradiction to the claims of the West Bengal CM that the naxal leader was killed in an encounter. Her government had faced accusations of having staged the encounter.
The TMC is clearly respecting the tradition of nepotism as is common with several political outfits. And when it comes to nepotism, things like a clean image and administrative capability rarely matter. Had it been anyone else, controversial comments like the ones given by Abhishek Banerjee would have destroyed his career. But being Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, he is bound to take on the mantle of the TMC from the West Bengal CM, no matter what. It seems that West Bengal must brace itself for a dynastic succession which does not seem very rosy on the face of it.