With new faces in key roles, TMC bets big on youth with an eye beyond Bengal

Bringing in actor Sayani Ghosh as Youth wing president, Ritobrata Bandopadhyay as state president of its trade union wing, Kunal Ghosh and Sayantika Banerjee as state general secretaries, along with old hands and trusted field marshals, the ruling Trinamool Congress has introduced an element of freshness to its state leadership, even as newly anointed national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee looks to expand the party nationally.

Most of the young as well as experienced leaders in whom Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has vested key party wings are educated, have good oratorial skills and last but not the least, speak fluent Bengali, English and Hindi. The last attribute, feel experts and Trinamool veterans, is found lacking among the frontline leaders of most other parties in West Bengal.

Speaking on the changes to the state leadership, Kunal Ghosh, who is also the party’s chief spokesperson, said, “Mamata Banerjee wanted to bring about a blend of energy, efficiency and experience in our organisation. The world around us is changing every day and we have to bring necessary organisational changes to keep up with the times. Otherwise, the party will lose its appeal towards the new generation and Mamata Banerjee, as we all know, has always favoured the youth. One should not forget that she had formed the Trinamool Congress with young leaders. Now, they are our seniors in the party.”

Apart from Mamata, her nephew Abhishek had emerged as a key campaign face of the party in the recent Assembly election. The CM and her nephew became the prime targets in the campaign speeches of all BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. In most speeches, they were referred to as pishi (aunt) and bhaipo (nephew) and the CM was even accused of establishing dynastic rule in the party.

On Abhishek, also a Trinamool MP, moving up the party ranks, Ghosh said, “Abhishek has already emerged as a national leader. That’s why all BJP leaders, including Modi, Shah and (JP) Nadda attacked him. However, it’s him who had the last laugh as we earned a resounding mandate. So, he proved himself.”

However, the choice of 28-year-old Sayani Ghosh as the Trinamool’s new youth wing president, the post Abhishek vacated on Saturday, has taken many by surprise. Known for her strong oratorial skills, the actor is the first woman to take charge of the party’s youth wing.

She said, “I am grateful to the chief minister and Abhishek Banerjee. This is a huge responsibility. I will not let them down.”

A former CPI(M) MP who was expelled from the party on disciplinary grounds in 2017, Ritobrata joined the Trinamool in 2018 and was made the state president of the party’s trade union wing. In the CPI(M), Banerjee was known to be close to former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and rose to being the national general secretary of the Student’s Federation of India (SFI). Since joining the Trinamool, he has played a key role in strengthening the party organisationally in North Bengal districts where the BJP made deep inroads in 2019.

He said, “I believe Mamata Banerjee is now the main alternative to BJP and the left face of Indian politics. I am very grateful to her and Abhishek Banerjee that they relied on me and gave me such a huge opportunity. Trade union is a vast field which includes both organised and unorganised sectors. Also, there are blue-collar and white-collar jobs. We will have to reach every corner of these sectors. I will take necessary suggestions from veteran trade union leaders such as Subrata Mukherjee, Shovandev Chatterjee and Malay Ghatak, among others. I will try to give my best.”

Another newcomer to politics, popular Bengali filmmaker Raj Chakraborty was made the head of the Trinamool’s cultural front. The 46-year-old won the Barrackpore Assembly seat in the North 24 Parganas district where the BJP did relatively well.

On Chakraborty, a senior Trinamool leader said, “Mamata Banerjee wants to use his smartness and oratorial skills in the organisation. He also can contribute to our cultural efforts and campaign strategy.”

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