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Poll fine print scanner on Trinamul leaders

Calcutta, May 20: Several Trinamul Congress ministers and MLAs are under the scanner for failing to ensure leads for Lok Sabha poll candidates in areas under their supervision, party sources said.

Malay Ghatak yesterday quit as agriculture minister and Burdwan (industrial) Trinamul president apparently on the instructions of the chief minister, who is said to be unhappy with him for Dola Sen’s defeat in Asansol.

“The chief minister is convinced her nominee Dola lost because of non-cooperation by Malayda, who had been given the responsibility of her campaign,” said a Trinamul leader close to Mamata. Dola lost the seat to the BJP’s Babul Supriyo by over 70,000 votes.

Trinamul trailed in 87 of the state’s 294 Assembly segments. Of the 87, the BJP led in 21.

Trinamul leaders said they considered themselves lucky because the party posted its best-ever Lok Sabha election result in Bengal, winning 34 seats, despite infighting in several districts.

Malay’s brother Abhijit has quit as Burdwan Trinamul Youth Congress chief, apparently because of Dola’s poor performance.

Two other local leaders — Asansol mayor Tapas Banerjee and Kulti municipality chairman Ujjwal Chatterjee — could also face disciplinary action, the sources said. Both leaders refused comment.

Malay’s organisational skills had helped Trinamul win five of the seven Assembly seats in Asansol in 2011. But in the Lok Sabha polls, the party managed to lead in only one of the seven Assembly segments. In Malay’s constituency, Asansol North, Trinamul trailed by 24,395 votes.

Other Trinamul leaders who are under the scanner are ministers Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury and Abdul Karim Chowdhury, and MLAs Arjun Singh, Sujit Bose and Smita Bakshi, the sources said. “Our party trailed the BJP in the Englishbazar, Islampur, Bhatpara, Bidhannagar and Jorasanko Assembly segments. These MLAs represent the five seats. Didi is not happy with this,” a source said.

None of the MLAs were willing to speak when asked about Malay’s resignation.

According to the sources, the role of north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, too, was being questioned by a section of the party as Bhaichung Bhutia trailed in six of Darjeeling’s seven Assembly segments.

Deb, however, denied such claims. “Darjeeling is the only seat (in north Bengal) where we have not done well. We defeated the Left in four Lok Sabha seats. In my (Assembly) constituency, Dabgram Fulbari, Trinamul got the most number of votes. Besides, I am not the only leader in the area,” Deb said.

Ministers Krishnendu and Sabitri Mitra, who were in charge of the Malda North and South seats, have been blaming each other for Trinamul’s loss in both seats.

“Whatever I have to say I will tell Mamatadi ,” Krishnendu told this newspaper.

In Asansol, Malay’s supporters today put up a roadblock to protest his “removal”.

A section in Trinamul fear that drastic disciplinary measures could prove counter-productive at a time the BJP’s performance in the state has improved. “Malay has many backers in Asansol. Their involvement in the civic poll preparations has become doubtful,” a senior Trinamul leader said. Elections to the civic bodies in Asansol and Kulti will have to be held by June 28.

One leader drew attention to the fact that Trinamul’s Calcutta South candidate trailed in the Bhowanipore Assembly segment, represented by Mamata. “Who is to be blamed for the Bhowanipore result?” a leader asked.