The decision taken by party supremo has disappointed thousands of TMC supporters here, including the party's Tripura unit chief Manik Deb. It was learnt that Banerjee, who was determined no to contest the state poll, asked the party leaders to prepare for the big election due next year instead.
Deb said Banerjee was aiming to increase the party's strength in the next general election so that the task of playing an important role in government formation and influencing the national politics became easier.
He said senior TMC leader Mukul Roy told him that Banerjee was looking to wrest at least 15 zilla parishads from the Left in the upcoming panchayat polls in West Bengal and it that mission is accomplished, it would be easier for the TMC to bag 30 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, something which would make the TMC the second-largest party in the country.
The state TMC chief said he welcomed Banerjee's views but at the same time rued that they were not given a specific direction about their role in the assembly poll. He said thousands of party supporters are not sure whom to vote for in the election, adding that the Congress was taking advantage of the situation as many of TMC supporters started working for the latter. He also accused the Congress of making false claims that Banerjee had asked them to vote for the Congress.
"This has certainly put us in deep trouble," Deb said.
The leader said that he has asked the party supporters to maintain a distance from both the CPI(M) and Congress during the election but said this might not help them take proper judgement.
The state Congress leadership, meanwhile, welcomed the TMC's decision and said it would help them increase their strength in the 60-member assembly. He said the TMC decided not to contest the election for they know that they are non-existent in Tripura.
Deb, however, rubbished such claim and said former Chief Minister Sudhir Ranjan Barman had joined the TMC in 2000 after the Congress's defeat in the polls but returned later.
Deb said he had tried his best to convince Banerjee and Roy about fielding candidates in the upcoming state polls for he felt that it was a good time to wipe out the Congress from Tripura. He had even announced that the TMC would contest from all 60 seats but was compelled to withdraw the decision later under pressure from Kolkata.