(From left) Anubrata Mondal (in green kurta), Manirul Islam (in white kurta) and Mamata Banerjee (extreme right) at the Bolpur meeting on Thursday. Picture by Indrajit Roy
Bolpur, July 10: Mamata Banerjee has instructed Trinamul leaders in Birbhum to woo back dissidents, saying recent defections to the BJP was a “cause for concern”, sources said.
At a closed-door meeting in Bolpur yesterday, the chief minister told Trinamul district president Anubrata Mondal, fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha and other leaders to “start a dialogue” with party dissidents.
“Mamatadi made it clear that the BJP was becoming a cause for concern. She said she could not allow them (the BJP) to gain strength at the expense of our party. She wanted local leaders to start a dialogue with the rebels and bring them back into the party fold,” a Trinamul leader who attended the meeting said.
The defections by Trinamul rebels to the BJP in Birbhum has worried the ruling party, which, sources said, has held several meetings over the past few days to discuss ways to stop the switchovers.
Six Trinamul rebel panchayat members in Parui and Hriday Ghosh, whose father Sagar was shot dead four days after a hate speech by Mondal last year, joined the BJP recently. Around 5,000 people followed them to become BJP primary members.
In Netai too, a section of Trinamul workers unhappy with the party is expected to join the BJP in the presence of BJP state chief Rahul Sinha on July 16.
Trinamul insiders said the chief minister yesterday wanted other party leaders, not Mondal, to negotiate with the dissidents after she was apparently told that most of the rebels was opposed to the Birbhum Trinamul president.
“Mamatadi has asked other Trinamul leaders to start a dialogue with the rebels since Mondal is not liked by many. However, she knows that Mondal has considerable clout in the district,” a party source said.
Though he is an accused in the Sagar Ghosh murder case, Trinamul is yet to take action against Mondal. Calcutta High Court has asked the state government multiple times why police action against Mondal, described by the chief minister as “khub bhalo chhele (very good boy)”, has not been taken.
Today, at a public meeting in Bolpur, Mondal and Trinamul MLA Manirul Islam, named in the FIR in a 2010 triple-murder, shared the stage with the chief minister.
Trinamul dissidents, who contested the rural polls last year as Independents, won several panchayats.
In the Lok Sabha polls, too, although Trinamul won both the Bolpur and Birbhum seats by huge margins, the BJP got leads in several wards. The trend prompted the Trinamul government to allegedly delay polls to 17 civic bodies, among them Sainthia municipality in the district.
Another reason worrying Trinamul in Birbhum is factionalism, which has been blamed for the party’s alleged failure in wooing workers from the CPM and Congress. A Trinamul leader had said a couple of days ago that at least 50,000 workers from the CPM and Congress had joined the BJP.
Although Mondal’s writ runs large in the Trinamul rank and file in Birbhum, his authority is not unchallenged.
Sources said Mondal has stayed away from Nanoor, where a local leader Sheikh Kajal calls the shots.
“Other than Nanoor, there are leaders actively working against Mondal in parts of Labhpur, Bolpur, Ilambazar and Sainthia,” a Trinamul leader said, indicating the factionalism the party is battling.
According to Trinamul insiders, Mamata yesterday also instructed Trinamul leaders not to interfere with the police.