|Siuli Saha and Subhendu Adhikari
Calcutta, May 9: Mamata Banerjee is “displeased” with Haldia MLA Siuli Saha for publicly sparring with MP and Trinamul’s East Midnapore strongman Subhendu Adhikari over the selection of candidates for the upcoming municipal polls, sources said.
Siuli told her close aides after “sensing Mamata’s displeasure” that she would do whatever the party wanted her to, the sources added.
It was not clear if a section of Trinamul was citing Mamata’s alleged “displeasure” to cap the controversy. Siuli is unlikely to have made the public statement without the endorsement of any senior leader in the party.
Yesterday, Siuli wrote to the Trinamul chief describing the “humiliation” meted out to her by Subhendu. At a news conference in Haldia on Monday, Siuli had alleged that Subhendu had struck down the names of those she suggested for the civic polls.
Trinamul leaders close to Mamata indicated that the chief minister had not taken kindly to Siuli going public against a party colleague. The sources said a Mamata aide called up Siuli last night and conveyed the party chief’s “displeasure” to the first-time MLA.
“Mamatadi had given clear instructions that no party leader should speak in public without the high command’s permission. The MLA did not follow that. She went to the media even before writing to the party chief. This is unacceptable. If she had a grouse, she should have come straight to Mamatadi,” a Trinamul leader said.
The eight candidates backed by Siuli have still not pulled out even though they have not got the party symbol. She today indicated that she was ready to tell the candidates to withdraw, saying she was waiting for the high command’s instructions.
“If the candidates I selected are not allowed to use the party symbol, they will withdraw their nominations,” Siuli told The Telegraph. Friday is the last day for withdrawal of nominations.
The Trinamul sources said it had been decided earlier in a meeting chaired by Mamata that Siuli and Subhendu would draw up the list of candidates. “It had been decided the MLA would not be the chairperson of the municipality. Siuli had then asked for eight candidates of her choice. But Subhendu didn’t approve them,” a Trinamul leader said.
Subhendu, who was in Calcutta today to meet party workers at Beliaghata and Chetla on preparations for a rally to mark the Mamata government’s one year in office, refused comment on Siuli’s outburst. The Haldia MP, who heads the Trinamul youth wing, has been asked to organise the rally.
“His organisational skills are well-known. He has succeeded in creating his own support base. That is the reason why he can take risks,” a senior Trinamul leader said.
Subhendu hit the headlines during the Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement and played a key role in Trinamul’s rise in both East and West Midnapore.
The sources said that with the panchayat polls round the corner, Mamata would not want to antagonise Subhendu. “East Midnapore was the first zilla parishad along with South 24-Parganas that Trinamul snatched from the CPM. These victories paved the way for our party’s subsequent electoral triumphs. Retaining the East Midnapore zilla parishad is a priority and without Subhendu, it will be difficult,” a Trinamul MP said.