| Mamata Banerjee at Trinamul’s Topsia office. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta, May 28: After dodging any reconciliation meeting with her former confidant, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today made her first move against MP Sudip Bandopadhyay by starting to break up his core team in Trinamul.
Mamata’s plan came into focus when she removed Ashoke Chakraborty as president of the Trinamul youth wing’s central Calcutta unit. Chakraborty, known to be a Bandopadhyay groupie, was replaced by Swapan Samaddar, a councillor and Mamata loyalist.
State Trinamul youth wing president Sanjoy Bakshi said the move was aimed at strengthening the party organisation. “We had several other changes in the districts to make our organisation stronger,” he added.
Mamata also indicated during the day that Bandopadhyay — whose chances of becoming a minister were nixed when she refused to become one — will not be invited to campaign for the series of bypolls next month. It was learnt that expelled CPM parliamentarian Radhika Ranjan Pramanik is likely to campaign for Trinamul in the Nabadwip Lok Sabha byelection.
Asked when the party’s disciplinary committee would discuss possible actions against Bandopadhyay, Mamata said it was the committee’s prerogative. “I will not be able to say when the committee will hold its meeting in this regard. The committee is the ultimate authority,” she added.
Mamata dismissed charges by a section of the BJP that she had violated the “dharma” of coalition politics in the past as “utter lie”. Mamata had shot off a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday, complaining that the way Bandopadhyay’s name was unilaterally picked for a Union Cabinet berth violated the “dharma” of coalition politics.
Some BJP leaders had shot back that during the selection of the deputy mayor after the city civic polls three years ago, Mamata had transgressed coalition ethics by “dumping” Meena Debi Purohit on them.
Sharply reacting to the allegation, Mamata said: “After Subratada (Mukherjee) won as councillor from south Calcutta and became the mayor, we thought that a woman councillor of the BJP from north Calcutta should become the deputy mayor. Accordingly, we had sent a proposal to the Prime Minister. It was then that the state BJP sent in Purohit’s name.”
Replying to questions, the Trinamul chief said she was in touch with some of the leaders of NDA partners like Chandrababu Naidu. “We are members of the same coalition and I am quite friendly with the TDP leader,” she said.
In a possible boost to Mamata, Pramanik, the MP expelled from the CPM yesterday, came to meet her at Trinamul’s new office at Topsia. After an hour-long meeting, Mamata indicated that Pramanik will side with Trinamul sooner or later.
“Our relation with Radhikada has improved. When he was suspended, I and Subratada had gone to his house to meet him. He is a senior leader and an asset to any party,” she said.