The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Trinamul sets rally date for reunion

Calcutta, Aug. 27: After the homecoming, the reunion. Ajit Panja, the Trinamul Congress MP from Calcutta North-east, will share a platform with Mamata Banerjee tomorrow after two-and-a-half years at a function to mark the foundation day of the Chhatra Parishad, the party’s student wing.

“It’s a great event for me as well as for the Trinamul Congress. Our reunion will mark a new beginning in the history of the principal Opposition party in Bengal. Let us send this signal to the ruling Marxists that Mamata’s Trinamul is emerging as a viable alternative to the Left Front,” an upbeat Panja said tonight.

Leaving the days of his defiant dissidence — marked by his presence in high-profile NDA programmes in Delhi when Mamata had pulled out of the coalition — behind, Panja tonight regretted “strained relations” with the Trinamul leader for over two years.

“I want to forget the sordid past and let tomorrow’s reunion prove that we could cause nightmares to the CPM if we stand united,” he said, adding that he did not hold any “personal grudge” against Mamata. “I always considered Mamata my leader, but we parted ways for some time due to differences of opinion on certain organisational matters.”

Panja said his loyalists will accord a grand reception to Mamata when she arrives at Mohammad Ali Park for tomorrow’s programme. “The venue falls under my parliamentary constituency and a special reception is being planned for our beloved Mamata,” he said.

Panja was suspended two-and-a-half years ago after he publicly protested against Mamata’s decision to resign from the Vajpayee ministry. The prospect of his return to the party had seemed bleak three months ago when the Congress fielded his daughter, Mahua Mondal, from the Bowbazar Assembly seat where a byelection was held following the death of the CPM’s Lakshmi De.

But things brightened overnight when Mamata had a one-to-one meeting with Panja in Delhi shortly before a rally in Calcutta on July 21 to mark the deaths of 13 Congress workers in police firing. Mamata publicly announced the lifting of Panja’s suspension and welcomed him to work for the organisation.

The word in Trinamul circles is that Mamata’s “softening stance” towards Panja came after her estrangement with another party MP, Sudip Bandopadhyay, who had started going Panja’s way. She publicly resented Sudip having invited some senior BJP leaders to his Calcutta residence while keeping her in the dark. An angry Mamata dropped him from all key posts in the party when her inclusion in the Union cabinet was linked to him getting a berth.

Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy said both Panja and Sudip will join a two-day session at Asansol soon where “we shall discuss ways to revamp the organisation from the grassroots to fight the CPM’s onslaught”.

Email This Page