Kolkata: Eager to create a pan-India appeal for the party and its supremo ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is planning a biopic on Chairperson Mamata Banerjee, sources in the party told ThePrint. While discussions are still in the initial stage, the sources said that TMC has already shortlisted the names of a few internationally acclaimed Bengali filmmakers to helm the mega project.
A senior party leader who didn’t wish to be named told The Print, “We want people to know about how Mamata Banerjee has emerged as a leader. There is already a positive public perception about her, we want to depict her pan-India image through the documentary.”
Also on the cards is a possible change in party name and party constitution, all with an eye on achieving a pan-India appeal.
The news of the planned biopic, however, has drawn some ridicule from opposition parties, with leaders calling it an effort by the TMC to create a “larger than life image” for their leader.
Mamata in a movie
The documentary is expected to highlight her journey in politics, her lifestyle, her contribution to the country’s progress as the Union Railway Minister.. It will also likely highlight the work she has done in West Bengal as the state CM in the past 10 years and her reach in other states, as she continues to build ties with other opposition leaders to create a united front against the BJP in the next general elections.
According to sources, the biopic will be released in all 22 constitutionally recognised regional languages across the country and not just in English, Hindi or Bengali. Once the biopic is ready, the TMC plans to showcase it to people in every region through smaller television channels with mass connect and rope in popular OTT platforms for maximum reach, they added.
The Bengal CM herself is known to take a keen interest in art and literature. She has penned over a 100 books, written poems and composed songs, not just in Bengali but also in English, Urdu and Hindi. Her work has been translated into Ol Chiki (the script for Santhali language).
Banerjee’s memoir, Mamata Banerjee: My unforgettable Memories was published in 2012.
In April 2019, just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India had had the trailers of a film, Baghini (directed by Bijoy Bose), inspired on the life of the Chief Minister, removed. However, this is the first time the party plans to produce a biopic on her, to communicate her achievements to those outside West Bengal and help her connect with people across the country.
The news of the Mamata biopic has, however, drawn mockery from the party’s political opponents in West Bengal. Speaking to ThePrint, BJP leader Rahul Sinha said, “Mamata Banerjee should give up her CM post and take up acting as her profession. A leader’s work is the real identity, not a film. A party that has no power outside West Bengal and Mamata Banerjee who no one is eager to know about — who will watch this documentary?”
CPIM leader Sujan Chakroborty too claimed that “this was a project by the party to make her look larger than life and nothing more”.
Blueprint for 2024
The TMC is also mulling a change in the party’s name, said sources in the party. The aim is to go for something that has more national appeal, but at the same time remains true to the party’s identity.
Though registered with the ECI as the All India Trinamool Congress, discussions are on within the party on ways to make the party name shorter, said sources, adding that one of the options being mulled is dropping ‘Congress’ from the party name.
The sources said, however, that there have been no conclusive talks on this subject yet.
A veteran TMC leader told ThePrint that, “We don’t want a drastic change in the name that could create confusion in the minds of the people. Trinamool is our identity.” Party sources have also confirmed that no change in the party symbol was being considered.
Also in a bid to bring in a “national flavour”, the party is said to be planning a change in its consitution that will be likely reflected in an organisational rejig.
Trinamool is said to be to expanding its working committee, the highest decision-making body of the orgainsiation. Currently a 21-member body, the working committee includes leaders from West Bengal, who only people in the state know of and recognise.
Now, to create a more national appeal, sources said the TMC plans to induct new faces in the committee, mainly from among the former Congress leaders who have joined the TMC in the past four months. The party has already confirmed the inclusion of Yashwant Sinha, TMC Vice President and Rajya Sabha MP, in the committee.
According to the sources, the party has also decided to hold its next working committee meeting in New Delhi, in the line of sight of both the BJP and the Congress.
“We feel we are a growing political party. The party was founded on 1 January, 1998. We are now 22-years-old, but our basic structure will not change, the DNA will remain the same,” Derek O’Brien had told the media after a working committee meeting in Kolkata last month.
The Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha member had also confirmed that the working committee has given veto power to Mamata Banerjee, so that the party chairperson will have the last say in all decisions taken to help the party grow nationally. The final changes incorporated by the party will be known in few months’ time as it’s still work in progress, he had then added.
A leader who joined the TMC in November and participated in last month’s working committee meeting told ThePrint on condition of anonymity that “the Congress is unable to play its role as the opposition. In the coming days, TMC will become the real Congress.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)