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TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee Eyes ‘People’s Leader’ Tag through MNREGA Stir Without Mamata – News18

Trinamool Congress MP Dola Sen singing her favourite song – ‘Ladai karo ladai karo’ (fight it out fight out). All senior leaders out on dharna — This is not 2006, when TMC chief and then in state opposition Mamata Banerjee was on a protest against the Tata Singur factory. The year is 2023, TMC is the ruling party in the state and in opposition at the Centre, and leading the protest for due Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) funds from the Centre is TMC national general secretary Abhishek.

ALSO READ | TMC’s ‘Chalo Delhi’ for MGNREGA Funds on Oct 2-3: Despite Injury, Mamata Banerjee Expected to Join Leaders

Experts say taking a cue from his aunt and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek is now trying to be the ‘people’s leader’.

On October 2-3, Abhishek, along with other leaders, went to Delhi for the protest and also to meet MoS Rural Development. This was the first time Abhishek started a dharna without Banerjee.

On October 4, Abhishek gave a call that they will march to Raj Bhavan. Till then, it wasn’t clear that he meant that he would participate in the ongoing sit-in outside Raj Bhavan. Once he did, it became clear that he is following in Banerjee’s footsteps.


A TMC dharna without Mamata is a rarity.

Abhishek’s Delhi movement clearly has a lot of takeaways, given that, in a first, he led the stir. They were unable to meet the minister in Krishi Bhawan, but Abhishek did a social media live and declared that he will not leave till the time the minister meets them.

This attitude is totally like Mamata Banerjee, say many. In 2006, when Banerjee wanted to go to Singur, she was stopped by police. She came back to Kolkata and did the dharna. She had also marched inside the Assembly seeking justice, with her MLAs in the opposition creating a ruckus.

Old-timers say Banerjee’s Singur dharna was historic, which showed that she was a streetfighter.

POST 2019

Since 2019, Abhishek has started working for the party organization, like Mukul Roy. Till then, he was only concerned with his constituency, Diamond Harbour. He wanted Prashant Kishor to be there. Banerjee fought the 2021 battle with full strength, with Kishor’s IPac playing an important role and Abhishek becoming the main lieutenant of Banerjee.

Post 2021, he was made the National General Secretary of the party and he concentrated on the organisation.

The Opposition did question his rise, stating it was based on his ties with Banerjee and not capabilities. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Suvendhu Adhikary has often said that Abhishek is a leader who has come up via lift and not by stairs. “He is not a people’s leader, but a corporate leader,” some from the opposition and even within the party used to say.

After 2021, however, it became clear that he had major influence on the party’s decisions.


Abhishek now wants to be known as streetfighter like Banerjee. That explains why before the panchayat elections, he spearheaded the Nabojowar Jatra, through which he travelled for 60 days in different areas of Bengal, staying in tents.

In the MGNREGA movement, too, Abhishek is posturing himself as a leader of common man. From Kunal Ghosh to Bobby Hakim to Sudip Banerjee, everybody’s speeches now have his name in the slogan, projecting him as Banerjee’s heir.

Kunal Ghosh, General Secretary of TMC, said, “He is truly following Mamata Banerjee. He has the same aggression, same streetfighter attitude as Didi. The way he spearheads movements in a cool manner is commendable.”

One section also says that Banerjee is training him to be like her and giving him space. Political analyst Sambit Pal told News18: “Mamata Banerjee is nowhere to be seen in this movement over non-payment of MNREGA and PMAY funds. Abhishek has been quietly pushed in the front. He is acting like an ‘opposition leader’, despite his party being in the government in the state. This is also a reminder of Banerjee’s agitations over land acquisition. I won’t call it a change of guard as Abhishek has already been elevated to the position of Mamata’s heir apparent. It is more of an image building for Abhishek, who is accused of getting to the top without leading any people’s movement.”

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Another political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty said: “A transition is already in the works. Abhishek solely managed the TMC Panchayat elections. He ensured a landslide victory. Through the Nabojowar Jatra and the MNREGA protest, he is doing what Banerjee did 17 years ago. He is trying to know the pulse of people, which is positive for him. He is restrengthening the leadership successfully. Even people who used to criticise him have accepted him.”

The BJP, meanwhile, maintains this is an example of parivaarvad. Adhikary said, “He has now made the TMC his own company. They are doing this is to transfer the attention from investigation.”

While the transition may see its share of hiccups, it is clear that history is repeating itself in Bengal.

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