The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress pounces on soft-target Trinamul

Calcutta, May 16: A day after trouble broke out in Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress in the wake of its dismal performance in the panchayat election, the Congress, which gained the most from Trinamul’s downfall, today moved in to cash in on the Trinamul chief’s woes.

The Congress accused Trinamul of helping the ruling Left Front by boycotting the remaining days of the budget session of the Assembly. Chief whip of the Congress Legislature Party Abdul Mannan said the Trinamul decision upset his plans to move an adjournment motion to protest the CPM’s “terror tactic”.

“We need the support of 30 MLAs to bring about an adjournment motion. There are 30 Congress and Congress-backed Independent MLAs. But, with one of them in jail custody (Hamidur Rahman), we are running one short. Trinamul’s boycott means the motion cannot be tabled,” said Mannan.

Former state Congress chief Somen Mitra criticised the Trinamul decision. “They are adopting a dual policy. They contested the Assembly election because they believed in parliamentary democracy. Now, by boycotting the Assembly, Trinamul is contradicting itself,” said Mitra.

He expressed surprise when told about leader of Opposition Pankaj Banerjee’s statement that the Trinamul MLAs would boycott the budget session but pick up their allowances from the Assembly. Banerjee, who had announced the party’s boycott decision yesterday, used his official car throughout the day.

Apart from containing the barbs from the Congress, Trinamul managers had to work overtime to put a lid on the high drama at a party meeting last night leading to Mamata Banerjee’s offer to quit from the post of the party chairperson.

Banerjee claimed there was no resentment in Trinamul following the panchayat poll. He even denied that Mamata had put in her papers yesterday. “There is no question of Mamata offering to resign. She is involved with Trinamul from her heart. At a meeting yesterday, MLAs voiced their opinions but at no point of time there was any heated exchange,” he added.

Party functionaries, however, confirmed Mamata’s offer to resign. President of the Trinamul youth wing Sanjay Bakshi wrote to her reaffirming faith and confidence in her leadership.

Several Trinamul legislators voiced their opinion against boycotting the Assembly for a “few days” to protest “a big issue like the violence unleashed by the CPM”.

Several MLAs, including Dipak Ghosh, Nirbed Roy and Arunava Ghosh, reportedly tried to argue with Mamata about the “futility” of boycotting the House.

Many of them felt the party went about the poll preparations in a haphazard way.

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