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Mamata MP praises Mamata-baiter

- Trinamul’s Ambika shares stage with Adhir, ruling party hears sideline message

Calcutta, Dec. 9: A Trinamul MP from Howrah apparently nursing a grouse for being sidelined in the party today shared the stage with Mamata Banerjee-baiter Adhir Chowdhury, praised the Congress minister and promised “all sorts of co-operation”.

Octogenarian Howrah MP Ambika Banerjee’s move has raised eyebrows in his party at a time two other senior Trinamul leaders — Rabindranath Bhattacharya and Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay — have openly expressed their dissatisfaction with Mamata.

“Adhir’s performance in Parliament is very good. As junior railway minister, Adhir has shown a lot of enthusiasm to perform. We are beside him and will extend all sorts of co-operation,” Ambika Banerjee said this morning at a railway programme in Howrah station. Adhir helped him to the mike on the dais.

The programme was held to mark the commencement of work for the development of Santragachhi as a major terminal and the coach terminal at Shalimar.

Ambika Banerjee later told reporters he attended the programme out of courtesy. “It’s a matter of courtesy. Besides, I performed my job as a responsible MP of Howrah.”

He rued Trinamul’s decision to quit the railway ministry. “The decision has affected the people of Bengal,” he said without naming Mamata. He described Adhir, the Congress MP from Behrampore, as “a dynamic leader”.

Ambika Banerjee, who switched to Trinamul from the Congress days before the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, had incurred the wrath of Trinamul for sharing the stage with then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at a programme in Howrah’s Udaynarayanpur in 2010.

A section of the Trinamul leadership in Howrah said tonight that Ambika Banerjee was “unhappy” at being sidelined in the party. “Despite being a senior politician, Ambikada has not got much importance in the party. He was disheartened at not being considered for a ministerial berth,” a leader said.

That Ambika Banerjee’s move to share the dais with Adhir, who has on several occasions been openly critical of Mamata, has not gone down well with the Trinamul leadership was evident from the comments of Sultan Ahmed, the MP from Uluberia adjoining Howrah.

“One should not praise Adhir for new projects because all of them were planned by our chief minister when she held the railway portfolio,” Ahmed said tonight.

“I skipped the programme despite being invited because I know that all the new railway projects are Mamatadi’s brainchild,” he added.

A Trinamul MP said Ambika Banerjee had “deliberately” praised Adhir openly.

“Ambikada wants to send a message to Mamatadi and express his unhappiness over the prevailing state of affairs in the party. Ambikada has joined the list of party dissidents after Sobhandeb Chattopadhayay, Rabindranath Bhattacharya and Seuli Saha,” the MP said.

The relations between Mamata and Adhir strained further after Humayun Kabir, a former loyalist of the Murshidabad strongman, switched to Trinamul last month and was given a ministerial berth.

Ambika Banerjee’s move comes at a time the party has been hit by infighting and voices of dissidence.

Veteran trade union leader Chattopadhay today expressed unhappiness at the leadership’s inability to punish those who had allegedly assaulted him at Calcutta University last week.

Singur MLA and cabinet minister Bhattacharya has said he wants to quit the ministry and the party after he was given a less important department in last month’s cabinet shuffle.

Haldia MLA Saha had publicly protested after being “left out” of a recent party programme in the port town, apparently because of her testy ties with East Midnapore strongman Subhendu Adhikari.

At a meeting with Trinamul’s elected representatives from South 24-Parganas yesterday, Mamata “expressed her displeasure” over the growing instances of infighting and told them to put up an united face before the panchayat polls.