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Cong request to Mamata

New Delhi, July 27: The Congress high command has asked chief minister Mamata Banerjee not to give any government assignment to its leaders without the party’s approval.

Sources revealed that the high command directed Bengal Congress president Pradeep Bhattacharya to write a letter to the Trinamul Congress chief with this request. The resignation of Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit as the chairman of the West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation followed this missive.

Sources here confirmed that Abhijit had been appointed without consultations with the party leadership.

The Congress had initially chosen to ignore the appointment as it involved Pranab Mukherjee’s son. But the party toughened the stand after PCC spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Roy switched sides and was given a Rajya Sabha ticket by Trinamul. Mamata’s decision not to invite the Congress to the July 21 rally acted as another irritant.

The sources said Sonia Gandhi agreed to convey a stern message to Mamata only after these episodes. “The high command was very particular about avoiding any conflict for the first few months. But this sensitivity was not appreciated by the other side. The conflict could now escalate as the situation on the ground is worsening. Reports from districts suggest Trinamul is out to gobble up the Congress,” a leader told The Telegraph.

Many state leaders had disapproved of Mamata’s attempts to keep Pranab in good humour while often snubbing the party as a whole. The state leaders had pointed out to the central leadership that Sukhendu was once close to Pranab.

The Congress felt that the party should decide who should get government assignments and it should not be left to the chief minister or individuals in the Congress. “There has to be a criterion. Is the Prime Minister free to decide who would be a minister in the central government from the Trinamul quota? How can Mamata usurp this right and decide on behalf of the Congress?” a Bengal leader asked.

The sources said Abhijit resigned only after it dawned on him that the high command had not appreciated his appointment.

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