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Rift whiff in Trinamul union

Calcutta, May 4: The rift in the Indian National Trinamul Trade Union Congress (INTTUC) spilled out into the open with two separate programmes being organised under its banner this afternoon, barely yards from each other.

The ruling party, however, rushed to quell any speculation.

Labour minister and Bengal INTTUC chairman Purnendu Bose and the union’s state president, Dola Sen, organised a rally and a public meeting at the Metro Channel ahead of the first anniversary of the Mamata Banerjee government. Around the same time (3.30pm), veteran trade union leader and Assembly chief whip Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay addressed a meeting of the INTTUC-backed Calcutta Municipal Corporation employees’ and workers’ union at Hogg Street, beside the CMC headquarters.

State panchayat minister and INTTUC national president Subrata Mukherjee had to hop from one venue to another to drive home the message that the ruling party’s trade union wing was united.

“From some quarters, it is being said that there are differences within the INTTUC. Both programmes are official. The CMC event is an annual one organised by the INTTUC. In other places, too, the INTTUC may have held meetings today. That doesn’t mean there is a rift,” Mukherjee said at the Metro Channel. Half an hour later, he repeated the message in front of the 5,000-odd participants at Chattopadhyay’s event. “There is only one INTTUC. There aren’t two different organisations. We have to remain united.”

Chattopadhyay was instrumental in forming the party’s trade union wing after Trinamul came into being. However, he was gradually sidelined, with Bose and Sen running the state unit. Recently, Mukherjee replaced Chattopadhyay as the union’s national president.

At the Metro Channel, Sen led a procession of around 2,000 supporters from Raja Subodh Mullick square. Bose and Mukherjee arrived later at the meeting venue. At the CMC programme, mayor Sovan Chatterjee, chairperson Sachchidananda Banerjee and mayor-in-council member Atin Ghosh were present. INTTUC sources said Chattopadhyay had personally invited Mukherjee but his name was not announced till he reached the venue towards the end.

“I had decided that I would not announce his name till he arrives,” Chattopadhyay said, betraying his uncertainty about Mukherjee’s attendance.

The decision to hold the Metro Channel rally was taken by the chief minister, Sen said. “On April 29, Mamatadi told us to organise the event. We had to do it in a hurry. Work is going on normally everywhere, in factories and the transport sector. The workers have not come here by disrupting work,” she added.