June 4: A group of Trinamul leaders from East Midnapore demanding the reinstatement of Subhendu Adhikari as state youth wing chief today alleged that party secretary-general Partha Chatterjee cancelled a meeting after giving them appointment.
Chatterjee denied having given time to the Nandigram leaders and said party decisions must be followed. Sources in Trinamul, however, claimed that the minister backed out at the last moment because he wanted to avoid getting involved in the controversy surrounding Subhendu’s removal as Trinamul Youth Congress state chief.
The disgruntled Trinamul leaders, seen as being close to Subhendu, said they had sought an appointment with Chatterjee to convey their displeasure with the decision to remove Subhendu and submit a memorandum demanding his reinstatement.
“Parthababu had told us to come to his Bikash Bhavan office at 4 this afternoon. But last night, he called us up to say the meeting could not be held as he would be busy through the day,” said Meghnath Pal, the deputy chief of Haripur gram panchyat in Nandigram and Trinamul president of Nandigram block I.
When The Telegraph contacted Chatterjee, he said: “I did not give appointment to them. Once a decision has been taken at the highest level, we have to abide by it and work together to further strengthen the organisation in Nandigram,” he said.
Feroza Bibi, the Trinamul MLA from Nandigram, was supposed to lead a team of 13 leaders from the area.
At a meeting on May 30 at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Mamata Banerjee had replaced Subhendu with Saumitra Khan, a Trinamul MP who recently defected from the Congress, as the chief of the state unit of the Trinamul Youth Congress.
Trinamul sources said the chief minister’s move was aimed at clipping the wings of Tamluk MP Subhendu, who has become a power centre in East Midnapore along with his father Sisir.
A day after the organisational recast, Subhendu had said “we know” how a lot of people “conducted the elections and won” by big margins. The decision to remove Subhendu did not go down well with a section of party leaders and workers in East Midnapore. These leaders and workers publicly expressed their discontent by blocking roads, chanting slogans against MP Mukul Roy and burning his effigy.
The party sources said Chatterjee cancelled the meeting at the last moment apprehending that it might trigger fresh controversy.
“Parthada has realised that if he meets leaders demanding Subhendu’s reinstatement, it will mean he is giving legitimacy to their demand. So he excused himself,” a source said.
Chatterjee, who had earlier been removed as industries minister, was given the education portfolio in a cabinet shuffle on May 27.
The source said Chatterjee avoided meeting the dissident leaders from Nandigram fearing that it might invite Mamata’s wrath.
“We shall seek an appointment with party state president Subrata Bakshi now,” Nandigram Trinamul leader Pal said.
Asked what would be the next course of action if they failed to get an audience with Bakshi, Pal said: “We will be left with no option but to quit our party posts. Those holding key posts in three-tier rural bodies will quit en masse if Subhendu is not reinstated.”