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First stick on dissident Trinamul MLA

Calcutta, Dec. 12: Trinamul MLA and Somen Mitra’s wife Shikha was suspended from the party today, the first such action against a dissident legislator coming hours after she dubbed yesterday’s Assembly ruckus “shameful”.

Shikha, who had earlier been censured for publicly criticising Mamata Banerjee and the government, told reporters when asked about the bedlam: “Whichever party was involved in it, the incident is shameful.”

She criticised the state of affairs in the Assembly, where Trinamul has absolute majority. “It is becoming difficult to tolerate the kind of language that is being used. What will the people who have elected us say? Today, even the Congress walked out of the Assembly,” Chowringhee MLA Shikha said.

Most Trinamul leaders remained tight-lipped on the suspension. Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy dubbed it “an internal matter of the party”.

A member of Trinamul’s disciplinary committee, however, said: “The party has suspended Shikha Mitra for an indefinite period for anti-party activities. The decision was taken after watching her performance since she started speaking against the party.”

Officially, Trinamul has blamed the CPM for the House bedlam. Trinamul sources said that by not naming the rival party, Shikha had not followed the official line.

The sources said Shikha earned the leadership’s wrath for adverse remarks apparently aimed at Mamata on July 1.

At a seminar she attended with Somen at the state Congress headquarters to mark the birth anniversary of former chief minister B.C. Roy, Shikha had said: “When B.C. Roy became the chief minister of Bengal, the state was in a mess. He never felt helpless about how to work. Once you are in the chair, you have to work. Taka nei, taka nei bolle cholena (saying there is no money doesn’t help). People will not listen to it. They want performance.”

Shikha further riled the Trinamul leadership by filing a defamation suit against industries minister Partha Chatterjee for his comments after her outburst.

On another occasion, Shikha had said Pranab Mukherjee was the “most eligible candidate for the President’s post” much before Mamata agreed to support his candidature after initial reluctance.

Shikha, who has not attended party meetings for the past few months, tonight justified her “sustained protest” against what she described as the “Talibani dictatorship in the party”.

“I will not stop speaking the truth. Let them suspend me but I will carry on my sustained protest against the Talibani leadership in the party that dictates terms to everybody. I must tell the truth about what is going on in the party,” she told The Telegraph.

Shikha said she would give a “fitting reply” to the leadership after she got the suspension letter. “I have a lot of things to say against them,” she added.

“What is this? If somebody gets suspended for speaking against the Talibani fatwa, so be it. I won’t bow my head to Talibani fatwa,” she added.

Shikha said she had informed Somen, who is attending the Lok Sabha session. “My husband told me to wait for the letter of suspension.”

Somen, who had also incurred Trinamul’s wrath by inaugurating a Kali puja organised by Burrabazar district Congress president Santosh Pathak, demanded that the leadership “mention the reason for suspending my wife”.

“I must know on what ground she was suspended. That is why we are all waiting for the suspension letter,” he said.

Trinamul has so far treaded with caution on veteran labour leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, who has openly said “a section of party people involved in syndicates and extortion are ringing the chief minister for their personal gains”.

Dissident minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya has expressed his wish to resign from the party and the ministry after last month’s cabinet shuffle left him with a less important department.

No action has been taken again rebel Jadavpur MP Kabir Suman, who has criticised the leadership over a host of issues.