Aiming to expand the base of Trinamool Congress outside West Bengal, party chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday left for Agartala in Tripura where she would address a rally to be attended by dissident Congress MLAs.
The Trinamool Congress has already carved a place for itself in the Marxist bastion emerging as the principal opposition party after six dissident Congress MLAs had joined it last June.
Sudip Ray Barman, who led the Congress dissidents in the sensitive Northeastern state, told PTI, "Mamata Banerjee’s rally at the Swami Vivekananda Maidan in Agartala on Tuesday will be the first nail in the coffin of the corrupt and inefficient Left Front government of Tripura."
Barman said that Banerjee would give the Tripura unit ‘direction’ to emerge victorious in the next Assembly poll due in 2018.
"All MLAs and other leaders who have joined the TMC from other parties, including the Congress, will be present in the rally. It will be a historic rally," he said.
Barman said the people of Tripura had become fed up with the Left Front regime and disapproved of the tie-up between the Congress and the Left Front in West Bengal.
"With this, the tacit understanding between the Left Front and the Congress came out in the open. Why then will people vote for the Congress as an alternative to the Left Front in Tripura?" he wondered.
If the Left is to be ousted from Tripura, Trinamool Congress is the best option because it is the only "anti-dote for the Left", Barman said.
After her landslide victory in West Bengal, Banerjee and her trusted lieutenant Mukul Roy have been working to expand her party’s influence in the Northeast with Tripura being the prime target. The Bengali population there forms the largest ethno-linguistic group in the state with nearly about 70 per cent of the population.
According to TMC sources in Kolkata, Tripura and the Northeast hold a key to TMC’s pan-India political ambition with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha poll where TMC wants to play a vital role.
"We are already the main opposition party in Tripura and if we manage to win Tripura it will be an added advantage in 2019. The Northeastern states have mostly remained untapped politically for us," a senior TMC leader said.