The All India Trinamool Congress is an Indian political party that was established on 1st January 1998 after a split from the Indian National Congress. It is led by founder Mamata Banerjee, who is also the current Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal. The party has a strong base in states of West Bengal, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The Trinamool Congress rose to prominence in West Bengal after successfully mobilizing farmers, workers and peasants against the industrialization policies of the then Communist Party of India (Marxist) Government in the state, which sought to acquire land from farmers in order to set up Special Economic Zones.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the All India Trinamool Congress Party.
10. National Party
After breaking away from the Indian National Congress, the Trinamool Congress was established in January 1998, and was registered with the Election Commission of India in mid-December 1999. After the 1999 General Elections, the Trinamool Congress was the sixth largest party in the Lok Sabha, with 19 seats. Currently, it is the fourth largest party in the Lok Sabha with 34 seats. The Election Commission of India recognized it as a National Party on 2nd September 2016.
9. The Party Symbol
The Election Commission of India allotted the exclusive symbol of ‘two saplings in the grass’ known as Jhora Ghas Phul. The symbol was created by Mamata Banerjee herself, signifying the philosophy of her party- that every tree has two buds- one Hindu and the other Muslim. And that, while one is the eye, the other is life. The logo is also symbolic of the party’s willingness to work at the grass root level.
8. Principal Opposition Party
After successfully establishing a vote share of more than 6 percent during the 12th Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress was approved as a political party by the Election Commission with its own party symbol. This also led the Trinamool to establish itself as a principle opposition against the thirty-four year-long rule of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) rule in the state of West Bengal.
7. Part of NDA coalition after 1999 Lok Sabha Elections
The Trinamool Congress joined the Bhartiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, as a result of which, Mamata Banerjee was allocated the Railways portfolio. Remaining true to her word to her state, Mamata Banerjee’s railway budgets had a lot of focus on improving connectivity in east and north-east India. During her brief tenure as the Railways Minister, she stressed on improving tourism industry in West Bengal, and argued that India must play a pivotal role in the development of the trans-Asia Railway.
6. Resignation and Return to NDA
Trinamool Congress leaders Mamata Banerjee and Ajit Kumar Panja resigned from their posts after a hike in the Petroleum prices in 2000. The resignations were later withdrawn. In 2001, the Trinamool Congress walked out of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA coalition after a few ministers were accused of corruption after an expose by Tehelka. The Trinamool went on to form an alliance with the Indian National Congress for the 2001 Assembly elections in West Bengal. The party was back in the NDA coalition in early 2004, where its founder Mamata Banerjee was awarded the Coal and Mines portfolio, which she continued to hold till the 2004 General Elections. Trinamool Party won only one Lok Sabha seat in 2004 elections, and Mamata Banerjee returned to the Lok Sabha as its only member of Parliament.
The Nandigram controversy started after the then Communist Party Government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya announced its plan to acquire almost 10,000 acres of land in Nandigram to set up a Special Economic Zone to be developed by Indonesia-based Salim Group for their chemical factory. The farmers, backed by the Maoists were adamant, and were not ready to give up their land. Their antagonistic reaction led to insurgency in the region to the extent that the state police could not reach Nandigram, which was now being patrolled by Maoist cadre. The State Government, finally decided to send police battalion to end the stand-off, however, the information was leaked to the Maoist cadre, resulting in violence and massacre at Nandigram. The incident drew angry reactions from intellectuals across the country. The Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee organized a state-wide Movement against what they called ‘state-sponsored terrorism’. They used the Nandigram incident widely during the campaign for the 2011 Assembly elections in West Bengal, which led to a landslide victory for the Trinamool Congress.
The Communist Party led Government of West Bengal faced massive opposition from displaced farmers when it announced its plans to acquire 997 acres of land in Singur to facilitate development of Tata Nano car manufacturing unit there. The Trinamool Congress and the opposition parties argued that the compensation offered by the Government was inadequate, and the alternative housing offered by the Government was being deliberately delayed. The agitated farmers were led by the Trinamool Congress and their leader Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee’s ‘Save Farmland’ Movement drew support from many environmentalists and intellectuals like MedhaPatkar, Aparna Sen, Arundhati Roy, who shared the stage with the leaders of Trinamool Congress during the Singur agitation. In October 2008, the Tatas decided to move the plant to Sanand in Gujarat. This victory in Singur created mass support for Trinamool in the run up to the 2011 Assembly elections in West Bengal.
3. Saradha Scam
The Saradha financial scam was a major fraud committed by the Saradha Group, a consortium of many private Companies. Following the collapse of their financial schemes, the State Government of West Bengal, under the Trinamool Congress set up at enquire commission to investigate the collapse. The opposition pointed guns at the Trinamool Congress, after Madan Mitra, the Transport Minister in the Government of West Bengal was arrested for his alleged involvement in the scam.
2. Muslims and Appeasement Politics
The Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee have been accused of appeasement politics to keep their Muslim votebank intact. The current West Bengal Government has been accused of promoting Urdu over Bangla to appease Mamata Banerjee’s Urdu-speaking Bihari, and UP migrant Muslim vote bank in Kolkata. There have been allegations of blacking out the incidents of violence against Hindus and the state Police by mobs of Muslims, many of them Bangladeshi migrants in Malda and Dhulagarh.
1. Ma Mati Manush
Ma Mati Manush is the official slogan of the Trinamool Congress Party, and was coined by the founder Mamata Banerjee. Literally translating as Mother, Motherland, People the slogan gained popularity during the 2011 election campaigning in West Bengal, and was later recorded into a song based on Banerjee’s poetry. Till date, the slogan remains the most popular political slogans in independent India.
The Trinamool Congress remains a force to reckon with even in the Parliament, where it sits in the opposition. Its most prominent members like Derek O’Brien and Sugata Das, are among the most respected Parliamentarians of our times.