All is not well within the Trinamool Congress. A party that swept the 2021 West Bengal polls is today plagued with infighting, factionalism and tensions. What do we know about Prashant Kishor and his political consultancy firm, I-PAC? It is that he and his firm tend to cause troubles for their clients, which are almost always political parties. The TMC is no exception. For so long, everyone was of the opinion that Mamata Banerjee was at the helm of affairs within the Trinamool Congress.
However, as it now turns out, that was not the case – at least from the time I-PAC was roped in to help the party survive an unforgiving saffron onslaught last year. Prashant Kishor has, ever since, been the de facto leader of the TMC. No decision has gone forward without his assent. In fact, Prashant Kishor and the so-called No. 2 leader of the TMC – Abhishek Banerjee had formed a duopoly over the party, side-lining Mamata Banerjee herself.
Mamata Banerjee is a ruthless politician. So, she has wrested control of the TMC back from the Abhishek-Prashant combine. On February 13, the TMC supremo called an emergency meeting with the senior leadership of the party and reconstituted the national working committee of the party. Interestingly, none of the leaders which Prashant Kishor roped into the TMC were given a spot by Banerjee in the national working committee.
Prashant Kishor Cut to Size
Prashant Kishor has this nasty habit of considering himself the most important person around, when in a relationship with his clients (read: political parties). He does not waste a single wakeful moment in trying to run the party like it is his own. This has caused fallouts between Kishor and a diverse array of political leaders across India.
Prashant Kishor actually met his match in Mamata Banerjee. The Bengal chief minister is a street fighter, and she definitely was not going to let Kishor go unpunished. Now, senior TMC leaders are speaking against Prashant Kishor, while Mamata Banerjee allows them to. The tipping point of tensions between Kishor and Mamata came when two competing lists of candidates for the upcoming civic polls came out of the party.
One list was prepared by Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC and had the approval of Abhishek Banerjee, while the other list was issued by the TMC ‘establishment’ and “old guard”. Mamata Banerjee chose the “old guard” over Prashant Kishor.
In national terms, Mamata Banerjee is making a comeback after a significant hiatus. Mamata has reached out to regional political heavyweights like Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. Mamata is expected to meet with other opposition chief ministers in Delhi soon.
Up till now, the national campaign of expansion was being handled by Prashant Kishor, his firm and Abhishek Banerjee. Now, Mamata has taken control back. I-PAC was also deciding what the TMC’s strategy should be in pan-India politics and how it should expand from one state to the other.
Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, seems to be reviving efforts to unite the opposition, much like her pre-2019 endeavour which bore no fruits.
The entire fiasco between Mamata Banerjee and I-PAC has revealed one fact. It is that for quite a long time, Banerjee has not been the supreme power within the TMC. Authority within the party has been divided between her, Prashant Kishor and Abhishek Banerjee. The Abhishek-Prashant duo had overshadowed her in the months gone by, and Mamata was reduced to a second fiddle. However, she is now back in business, and Prashant Kishor is looking for a way out of the TMC. Abhishek Banerjee, meanwhile, has been shown his place by his aunt.