NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien announced on Friday that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken over as the new chairperson of the parliamentary party, replacing Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
The announcement came ahead of her visit to Delhi the next week to prepare the opposition parties to unite and come on one platform to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 parliamentary elections.
She has been a member of Parliament seven times and even as the chief minister, she has been steering the party in Parliament in every crucial matter, was Bandyopadhyay’s explanation.
Despite the explanation, speculation is rife that she may have plans to come to Parliament as an MP much ahead of the 2024 polls as she is not a member of either House of Parliament, which would qualify her to head the parliamentary party of Trinamool.
Asked about the significance of the development, O'Brien told a press conference here: "Mamata Banerjee will become Trinamool parliamentary party chairperson. This is a reality we are formalising. Mamata Banerjee is a seven-time MP. She was already guiding the parliamentary party. This is a strategic decision."
However, one does not have to look far for precedents. Even Sonia Gandhi had become the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party in 1998 without being elected to Parliament. She was elected to the Lok Sabha only a year later in 1999 from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, aafter giving up the second seat of Bellary in Karnataka.
Notably, the TMC supremo is scheduled to visit Delhi on July 26 and is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.