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Discontent & faction fight cloud on Dola

Asansol, March 15: Dola Sen, Trinamul candidate for the Asansol Lok Sabha seat who is making her election debut, is busy visiting shrines before launching a full-fledged campaign, but party sources said her only hope was Mamata Banerjee.

The former Naxalite, now state president of Trinamul trade union INTTUC, has been camping in Asansol since last Sunday.

In the past few days, Dola has visited the Kalyaneswari temple in Maithon, the Ghagar Buri Chandi Mata temple in Asansol and the Mazaar-e-Sharif on the outskirts of Ranigunj.

“What she needs now is Didi’s intervention,” a Trinamul leader in Calcutta said. “Some party sections haven’t yet shown any interest in campaigning for Dola. They will canvass for her only if Didi intervenes,” the leader added.

There are 150-odd industrial units in Asansol, which has a sizeable Hindi-speaking population. Many among them are expected to vote for the BJP’s Babul Supriyo.

Historically, the constituency has supported candidates who control the trade unions in the industrial units.

The INTTUC has replaced Citu in most of these units, and the majority of the factories have multiple unions claiming loyalty to the Trinamul trade body. Many of these trade union units owe allegiance to veteran leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, with whom Dola has testy ties.

A factional feud in Asansol is another hurdle Dola has to contend with. The sources said that factions led by minister Malay Ghatak and Asansol mayor Tapas Banerjee were at loggerheads.

“Add to all this the outsider tag on Dola, and she faces a difficult fight,” a Trinamul leader said.

Dola denied reports of discontent over her candidature. “There is no ill-feeling. The CPM is spreading these rumours,” she said.

In the past seven days, Dola has held more than 10 meetings with party workers in the presence of Ghatak and Tapas Banerjee. “She is also trying to reach out to Sobhandebda through Mamata,” a local Trinamul leader said.

The party sources said Mamata had fielded Dola “ignoring the aspirations” of some local leaders. According to the sources, Ghatak had requested the party to field his brother Abhijit from Asansol. A few others were in favour of Tapas.