| Sudip: Cautious
Calcutta, Feb. 8: Mamata Banerjee has conveyed to Sudip Bandopadhyay, the Trinamul Congress MP from Calcutta Northwest, her desire to pit him against his former mentor Priya Ranjan Das Munshi in the general elections.
Bandopadhyay, who has been with the party from the beginning but is now out of Mamata’s favour, has also been told that he may have to take on Adhir Chowdhury in Behrampore.
Raiganj and Behrampore are Congress strongholds where Das Munshi and Chowdhury won the 1999 Lok Sabha elections comfortably.
“Sudip is trying to regain her confidence, but our leader finds it difficult to forget the humiliation she was subjected to in Delhi by some of our ambitious functionaries. She has made herself very clear to Sudip about his renomination: it will not be from Calcutta Northwest,” a Trinamul official close to Mamata said.
Bandopadhyay had lobbied with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani last year for a berth in the Union cabinet without letting Mamata know about it. He had also hobnobbed with central leaders of the BJP when Mamata’s relations with the party were strained. His proximity to railway minister and Samata Party leader Nitish Kumar did not go down well with her either.
“I met her (Mamata) twice in Delhi. Thursday’s meeting was very short… I don’t know what is in store for me,” Bandopadhyay said tonight.
Trinamul officials said mayor Subrata Mukherjee, the Trinamul MLA from Chowringhee, would be the party’s nominee for Calcutta Northwest. “We have decided to field the mayor in the prestigious seat, which we are confident of retaining,” said a party leader.
A Trinamul source said the BJP had tried to isolate Mamata within Trinamul last year by using Bandopadhyay.
The MP, who rebelled against his leader by ignoring her likes, made it clear that he was not comfortable with the idea of fighting the elections from Raiganj or Behrampore. “It is too early to say anything. But I do not fancy entering the fray from either constituency,” said Bandopadhyay.
At the meetings in Delhi last week, Mamata ticked off Bandopadhyay for functioning like an Independent and asked him to prepare for the change of constituency.
“I am still a Trinamul working committee member. I have been associated with the party since its inception. Things are going wrong for me these days…. I am going through a crisis… but I cannot be blamed for it,” Bandopadhyay said.
Political circles are agog with speculation that Bandopadhyay may contest as an Independent from Calcutta Northwest. The CPM has not declared its candidate for the seat as yet and is apparently waiting to cash in on a split in Trinamul votes.