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Discontent over Trinamul fairweather flock

Calcutta, Jan. 1: Trinamul MP Saugata Roy today sought to draw a distinction between early-bird members and those who joined the party after its political fortunes soared, drawing a swift rebuttal from colleague Mukul Roy.

Dum Dum MP Saugata Roy’s comments have brought to the fore the “simmering discontent” within the “old crop of Trinamul leaders”, party sources said.

Saugata Roy, speaking at a workshop organised in Madhyamgram on the party’s foundation day today, said in the presence of Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy that due importance should be given to leaders who joined the party before 2009.

Saugata Roy alleged that many had joined the party for personal gains after 2009, when Trinamul won the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal.

“Many people joined the party after 2009. Some joined for becoming panchayat and municipality members. Some joined for earning money. This can happen since many want to be with the ruling party,” said Saugata Roy, who had earlier criticised the appointment of poorly educated decision-makers in colleges.

“Those who joined the party before 2009 should be given prominent roles. I am asking the party to draw the line at 2009. Those who fought during the Singur and Nandigram movement should get importance,” Saugata Roy said today.

Mukul Roy, who spoke at the event after Saugata Roy, made it clear that he did not subscribe to the latter’s view.

“Trinamul was established as a historical necessity to fight the CPM. Many political pundits did not join Trinamul when it was formed. They came in much later. Why bother about who joined the party when? We are one happy family,” Mukul Roy said.

The sources said Mukul Roy’s “political pundit” jibe was aimed at Saugata Roy, who switched to Trinamul from the Congress in 2001.

In 1998, the year Trinamul was launched, Saugata Roy had contested against Mamata Banerjee in the South Calcutta Lok Sabha seat on a Congress ticket and lost.

Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, however, agreed with Saugata Roy.

“He spoke about giving importance to senior leaders in the party. There is nothing wrong with it,” Mukherjee said later.

Saugata Roy’s comments come at a time veteran party leaders such as Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay have been “sidelined” to make way for those inducted recently.

A section of Trinamul leaders is apparently unhappy with Mamata’s decision to give ministerial berths to MLAs who recently defected from the Congress.

Trinamul insiders said Saugata Roy was speaking for a “sizeable majority” in the party. They said the treatment meted out to Chattopadhyay, the Trinamul chief whip in the Assembly and veteran labour leader, had not gone down well with several old-timers.

Chattopadhyay was assaulted by supporters of a rival Trinamul union faction at Calcutta University in November. Earlier, he was removed from the helm of the INTTUC, which he had established.

Today, “a hurt and humiliated” Chattopadhyay told The Telegraph: “I had requested the leadership to at least publicly condemn the assault on me. I feel hurt and humiliated because the leadership has ignored my request. I have decided to write a letter to the leadership protesting the leadership’s silence.”