| Mamata and Sudip at Howrah station on Tuesday. Picture by Aranya Sen
Calcutta, Sept. 10: Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today succeeded in putting up a “show of unity” at the parliamentary party meeting that endorsed her decision to replace Sudip Bandopadhyay with Ranjit Panja as the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha.
The meeting at the south Calcutta residence of Jadavpur MP Krishna Bose was attended by all Trinamul MPs, including Bandopadhyay. Rebel MP Ajit Panja was the only absentee.
He did not want to continue as the chief whip as he was over-burdened with the work of several standing committees, Bandopadhyay said. He denied differences with Mamata on organisational matters. “Today’s meeting was held in an amicable atmosphere. We have decided to maintain solidarity and work together for the party’s expansion,” he said.
Briefing newsmen later, the Trinamul chief said the meeting expressed shock at the Rajdhani derailment near Gaya and called for the formation of an expert group to suggest steps to enhance passenger security.
The meeting did not demand railway minister Nitish Kumar’s resignation, but felt there was need for greater vigil along the railway tracks and to intensify steps to ensure safety and security of railway equipment and passengers. It condoled the deaths and demanded adequate compensation for the bereaved families.
Mamata, accompanied by Bandopadhyay, went to Howrah station this evening.
Informed sources said Bandopadhyay realised the need for a patch-up with the Trinamul chief as his tiff with her was sending wrong signals to the party’s rank and file and ultimately doing no good to his image.
Mamata, too, did not want to lose the confidence of her long-time associate and utilised today’s meeting to put up an everything’s fine show.
Sources said a move may be afoot to win over Ajit Panja, who was suspended for his anti-Mamata tirade and defying the party line on the partnership with the NDA. The new chief whip, Ajit Panja’s younger brother, is likely to take a fresh initiative to bring Mamata and the rebel leader to the talks table.