The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Panja prepares for return

Calcutta, June 25: After flirting with the Congress which prepared itself in the past several weeks to readmit him, suspended Trinamul Congress MP Ajit Panja tonight began a return journey to Trinamul following a reconciliation with Mamata Banerjee.

Trinamul sources in Calcutta and Delhi said the suspension on Panja might be revoked in the next few days, prefaced with a statement on this count from one of Mamata’s trusted managers, probably Mukul Roy, the general secretary.

According to tentative plans, soon after the statement, Trinamul’s working or disciplinary committee would go into session to discuss the issue and recommend the withdrawal of the suspension notice. Panja is expected to issue a matching statement around the same time.

The plans have been so structured as to convey an impression that Mamata was allowing herself to be influenced by a collective decision. Panja was suspended at the behest of Mamata after his rebellion just before the 2001 Assembly election.

Mamata’s relationship with Panja started souring since April 2001 but the rupture came soon after the Assembly election. The CPM, which swept the poll, had liberally used Panja’s allegations against Mamata during elections. Panja will now have to take back his description of Mamata as a megalomaniac and buy peace.

From Panja’s point of view, his daughter and Congress candidate Mohua Mondal’s defeat by a huge margin in the recently concluded Vidyasagar Assembly byelection exposed the Congress’ weak position vis-a-vis Trinamul in Calcutta.

Neither the minorities nor the majority community voted on the desired scale for the Congress in Vidyasagar, which falls in Panja’s Calcutta Northeast constituency.

By bringing Panja back to the fold, Mamata can kill two birds. She can further marginalise present foe Sudip Bandopadhyay, who considers Panja an anathema, and send a signal to the BJP-led NDA which has questioned Mamata’s ability to carry older leaders with her.

But another rebellion appeared to be brewing in Trinamul today when Dipak Ghosh, MLA from Mahisadal in Midnapore and a former bureaucrat, wrote to fellow legislators, seeking their opinion on Mamata’s decision to boycott the Assembly session from June 26.

Ghosh asked all Trinamul MLAs to rise in protest against the boycott decision if they did not agree with the move.

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