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Mamata glare on faction fight
Unity order to district leaders

Calcutta, March 7: Mamata Banerjee today met Trinamul leaders from four districts where the choice of Lok Sabha poll candidates has caused resentment and “sternly” told them that she would not tolerate factional feuds, sources said.

The chief minister separately met Trinamul leaders from Howrah, North 24-Parganas, Bankura and Darjeeling after holding a meeting with election candidates at her Kalighat home this afternoon where she spelt out a list of dos and don’ts.

Mamata’s meeting came a day after two Trinamul MPs, including one from North 24-Parganas, openly expressed dissatisfaction at the party’s decision not to renominate them.

A section of the hill Trinamul is unhappy with the choice of Bhaichung Bhutia as the candidate for the Darjeeling seat. Although this section believes that a local leader should have been nominated, it has said it will support Bhaichung, whom Mamata met separately today.

Trinamul sources said Mamata spoke to food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriyia Mullick, the party’s observer for North 24-Parganas, and Nirmal Ghosh, the district president. According to the sources, the two leaders, who apparently do not see eye to eye, were told that factional feuds would not be tolerated.

“Mamata refused to listen to any explanation on why there was discontentment among the district leadership over the choice of candidates and instructed the two leaders to put up a united fight,” a senior leader said.

According to the sources, Mamata was mainly concerned about the Basirhat seat, where Idris Ali has been given the ticket instead of sitting MP Haji Nurul Islam. Islam, who has been fielded from the Congress stronghold of Jangipur in Murshidabad, is said to have expressed his displeasure to leaders close to him.

A section in the North 24-Parganas unit of Trinamul is unhappy with the renomination of Dinesh Trivedi from Barrackpore. A Trinamul leader said Trivedi did not visit his constituency regularly, adding that party all-India general secretary Mukul Roy was not in favour of the candidature of his predecessor in the railway ministry.

After meeting the leaders from North 24-Parganas, Mamata held a session with Howrah ministers Arup Roy and Rajib Banerjee, who have been at loggerheads for a long time.

Trinamul sources said the “turf war” between agriculture marketing minister Roy and irrigation minister Rajib Banerjee had affected development work in the Howrah Municipal Corporation, which Trinamul won last year. Trinamul’s main poll plank had been the lack of development in Howrah in the three decades that the Left was at the helm of the civic body.

The sources said Mamata today told Roy and Rajib Banerjee to bury their differences. “Many leaders from the district had told Mamatadi that the tussle between Arup and Rajib was one of the reasons behind Prasun Banerjee winning last year’s Howrah bypoll by a slender margin of 27,000 votes,” a leader said.

The sources said Prasun Banerjee was today told to look after the areas of Serampore that are near the Howrah border. Trinamul’s Kalyan Banerjee is the Serampore MP.

At the meeting Mamata held with Darjeeling candidate Bhaichung, north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb was also present. The sources said Mamata asked them about the situation in the hills, where the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has announced that it would not support the Trinamul candidate.

“Mukul Roy has been asked to sort out the Darjeeling issue as our party cannot afford to lose the seat,” a Trinamul general secretary said.