New Delhi: The Congress’ hope of projecting party president Rahul Gandhi as the Opposition’s prime ministerial “face” hit the first hurdle with supporters of Trinamul supremo Mamata Banerjee launching a soft campaign on Facebook to project her as the Opposition candidate for Prime Minister in the 2019 general election.
A Facebook page set up by Mamata fans — “All India Trinamul — AITC Supporters” put up posts stating: “Chalo Bodlai-Ebar Bangali Prodhanmantri Chai” (Come let’s bring a change — This time we need a Bengali PM). A photograph of a smiling Ms Banerjee was put above the slogan. Some of the comments read, “TMC Zindabad — Didi Pradhan Mantri hobe” (TMC Zindabad — Didi will be the next Prime Minister).
This social media page is, incidentally, run by her fans and is not the official TMC page, a party leader clarified. Before Mr Gandhi threw his hat into the ring, TMC leaders have been sending out signals that it would “prefer” Ms Banerjee as leader of the Opposition charge in the next general election.
Trinamul Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O’Brien was on record saying: “In 2019, Ms Banerjee will play the lead role, Bengal will play the lead role.” Apparently nursing her PM ambitions, Ms Banerjee had been giving clear indications that she was reluctant to work under the leadership of Mr Gandhi. During her recent visit to New Delhi, she had not met Mr Gandhi but had called on his mother, Sonia Gandhi.
“The Congress was wrong to move the impeachment notice against CJI Dipak Misra. The Congress wanted us to support it. But we did not,” Ms Banerjee had gone on record as saying during her Delhi visit. Making it clear that she was not willing to come under the Congress’ umbrella, Ms Banerjee had pitched for a 1:1 formula, which in electoral terms would mean one winnable candidate versus another in each parliamentary constituency across the country. The United Front or the Grand Alliance (if formed) would put up one common candidate, which the rest would support. If this particular formula is followed, the Congress’ role in electoral politics will be marginalised in many states.