For anyone who is interested in Indian politics it would be worth their while to not only know the two bigger parties in the picture but to also make a note of the regional parties that can formally contest a seat and those that can’t and the parties that are backed by armed militias and those that aren’t. Sounds complicated?? Well it is, exponentially so.
India is probably the most democratic country in the world but with democracy comes the burden of listening to all segments of the population and giving everyone a chance or an avenue to be heard.
The face of Indian politics has changed in the last twenty to thirty years and it continues to change to not only meet the demands of its huge population but to also meet global expectations.
Among the 7 or 8 parties that rank as top tier political parties in India is the All India Trinamool Congress a breakaway faction of the INC or the Indian National Congress led by the often vocal and at times strong critic of the BJP, Mamata Banerjee, who also currently serves as the Chief Minister of Bengal.
The All India Trinamool Congress or the AITC controls 211 of the 294 seats in the West Bengal State Assembly and as far as Bengal is concerned the AITC is an extremely influential party. It has managed to wrest control of the state away from its predecessor the Communist Party of India (CPI)(M) which was by no means an easy feat.
Bengal was once a major stronghold of the CPI(M), a predominantly Marxist party, and the Marxists not only have popular support in Bengal but they also have strong support in various other states in India and that is partly due to the fact that, for the masses and the impoverished, communism provides or appears to provide a better solution. Marxist ideology has an old school charm about it that appeals to many.
In the runup to the 2011 elections the state witnessed violent clashes between supporters of the AITC and supporters of the CPI(M) but at the end the AITC emerged triumphant and won by a substantial majority and has remained in control ever since and it looks to remain in control for quite some time.
The party was founded by Mamata Banerjee and as far as political parties are concerned it is a fairly new party having taken roots in 1998 after a factional breakaway from the INC. In addition to serving as the Chief Minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is also an author, painter and poet of some note.
The AITC appears to be a non-religious based party or a party that is not bound by religious ideology or principles and makes an effort to serve people of all religions and that would not only appeal to those in the middle i.e. those that favor neither the left nor the right but also to the communists in Bengal because communism doesn’t place too much emphasis on religion.
The AITC, going by its manifesto, is a party that puts Bengali culture first, and places more emphasis on Bengali history and tradition as opposed to orthodox political views which look to be fast losing their appeal. As far as Bengal is concerned it may have struck the right balance, especially given the fact that the state is extremely proud of its rich artistic and literary legacy.
In addition to that the party also aims to alleviate poverty in Bengal. Poverty is not only a problem in Bengal but it is a major problem in most Indian states though admittedly some states fare better than others. A lot depends on the state government and therefore state elections are equally as important as federal or national elections and it is fair to say that the commitment to eradicate poverty is something that is common among most political parties in India.
In recent times there have been speculations of a division within the party with the exit of Mukul Roy a member of parliament and a founder member of the AITC.
The party despite its anti-corruption stance has been hit by allegations of corruption and it will be interesting to see how the party recovers from these widespread allegations especially in light of its aspirations of becoming a national party.