Trinamul on Wednesday launched a membership drive in Meghalaya, a state where it is trying to emerge as a major player before next year’s Assembly polls.
The launch of the “Be The Change” membership campaign at a party workers’ meeting saw Trinamul national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee urge the people of Meghalaya to support the party in its endeavour to oust the NPP-led government, which he said was a “proxy government run by the BJP”.
People of Meghalaya can call on a phone number (9687796877) to extend their support. “We will register them after necessary follow-up,” state legislature party leader Mukul Sangma, also a former chief minister, told The Telegraph.
The membership drive was launched in Abhishek’s presence during his maiden visit to Shillong on Wednesday. The Meghalaya Pradesh Trinamul Congress state office in Shillong was also inaugurated.
“All India Trinamul Congress is the only party that knows how to take the BJP head-on. We are the only ones who know how to show Amit Shah his place. And that’s why we have come here, to defeat divisive forces. Our only aim is to save Meghalaya from the divisive politics of the proxy BJP government. Our only goal is to empower the people, uphold the different ethnic cultures and celebrate the sacred land of Meghalaya,” Abhishek said at the launch of the membership drive.
The Conrad Sangma-headed National People’s Party (NPP) is heading a coalition government in Meghalaya since 2018. The BJP has two MLAs and is a constituent in the government with one minister.
Trinamul has 12 MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly, all of whom had switched over from the Congress in November. It is the principal Opposition party.
Targeting chief minister Conrad Sangma, Abhishek said: “Have you seen the body language of the CM when he meets BJP top brass in Delhi? He is an elected chief minister representing 35 lakh Meghalayans, carrying their hopes and aspirations. Should he bow down to BJP leaders? Is this why Meghalaya voted for him? If the answer is no, please support AITC (Trinamul).”
He added that under the “false” narrative of “double engine” government, the Centre and the state government are doing “double heist and double robbery”.
He tried to dismiss the perception that Trinamul was a Bengali party. “Trinamul is a national party.... I promise Meghalaya will be run by the people of Meghalaya and not by Bengalis....”
The BJP’s Meghalaya unit chief Ernest Mawrie told The Telegraph the BJP has zero tolerance against corruption.
“Trinamul leaders Charles Pyngrope (state president) and Mukul Sangma should file FIRs in cases of corruption. Just saying there is corruption under the present regime is not enough. Secondly, (Abhishek) Banerjee should take a close look at his government in Bengal, look at the level of corruption and law and order issues there,” he said. “Thirdly, I want to advise Trinamul not to turn Meghalya into Bangladesh. We want a government of indigenous people. Trinamul encourages influx and we are against influx.”
Meghalaya shares a 440km border with Bangladesh.
The NPP media cell said that in their attempt to reach out to the public with their agenda, Trinamul should “restrain” from making “unwarranted and unprincipled” remarks.
“What pains the rank and file of the NPP is the culture which Trinamul Congress wishes to bring to Meghalaya. The culture of abuse, hostility, mud-slinging and misinformation. This is against our own indigenous culture,” NPP said.
“Such petty pathways to gain some headway will be rejected by the people of Meghalaya. Our state is not one where electioneering is full of violence and aggression — something not alien to the campaigning style of Trinamul Congress as already demonstrated in many previous instances,” the NPP statement said.