Trinamul leaders surround Rays body at his home in Beltala on Sunday. (Anindya Shankar Ray)
The Congress, licking its wounds after the Trinamul Congress hijacked former chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Rays funeral on Sunday, tried to regain some political ground on Monday by announcing a memorial meeting to pay respect to the Congress veteran. Trinamul is yet to decide whether or not it would hold a similar programme.
Ray was a Congressman all his life. He was the last Congress chief minister of Bengal and the state Congress president in 1991. But despite several requests, his body was not brought to the party headquarters on Sunday. This hurt Congress workers. Now we have planned a condolence meeting to pay homage to our leader, state Congress president Manas Bhuniya said on Monday.
Trinamul secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the party had not yet decided on holding a memorial meeting for Ray. Mamata Banerjee is currently in Delhi. So we have not taken a decision on a condolence meeting, he added.
Chatterjee sought to downplay the Congresss move to hold a memorial meet. Those who did not care for a person during his lifetime have suddenly become concerned about him after his death. This is in bad taste, said the Trinamul leader.
Bhuniya on Monday alleged that some people had dictated everything about the funeral since the morning, ignoring the presence of our leaders both at the Beltala residence of Ray and at Keoratala burning ghat.
Mamata Banerjee and other Trinamul leaders like Mukul Roy, Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmed and Chatterjee had supervised the funeral arrangements.
Bhuniya also spoke about a letter that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had written to Rays widow, Maya. In the one-page condolence message, Sonia described the former Bengal chief minister as a veteran of our party who… had the confidence, respect and friendship of Indiraji, Rajivji and mine as well.
Bhuniya went to Rays Beltala residence on Monday evening to hand over the letter to Rays widow. Mayaboudi was impressed at receiving Soniajis condolence message, which she signed off as Fondly yours, Sonia, said Bhuniya.
Bhuniya also said Maya had told him that she was not taken into confidence about Rays last journey.
According to the state Congress chief, Maya had invited all Congress leaders to Rays shradh on November 16 at her Beltala house.
Bhuniya said the Congress would organise the memorial meet either at Mahajati Sadan or at Netaji Indoor Stadium. We will decide the date of the meet in a day or two, he added.