The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata expel threat to quell quarrels

Asansol, Aug. 31: Rattled by squabbles in the party, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee today warned that those violating party discipline would be thrown out.

Apparently peeved by the recent standoff between mayor Subrata Mukherjee and mayor-in-council member Mala Roy over dumping of garbage outside Tollygunge police station, Mamata made it clear that party leaders must not use the party forum for their “personal interests”.

She asked them to go by the “collective decision” in the “greater interests” of the organisation. “Those who refuse to toe the party line are free to leave and go elsewhere,” she said.

Speaking at a public rally here after the two-day “brainstorming” session, Mamata said one should not act in a fashion that embarrasses the party before the public.

It seemed a veiled reference to estranged colleague Sudip Bandopadhyay, who had invited BJP central leaders to his Calcutta residence and lobbied for a berth in the Union cabinet keeping her in dark.

The soured relations between the two, particularly after Mamata’s entry to the cabinet was nixed when it was linked to Bandopadhyay getting a berth, showed little improvement. Much to the embarrassment of delegates, Mamata had a tiff with him during a discussion on land reforms in the session.

As Bandopadhyay wondered why he did not find a farmer among the delegates, an agitated Mamata retorted: “I want the Calcutta-based leader to go to a village to see how farmers are with us…. It is better to run the party with dedicated and sincere leaders, no matter how small they are in numbers.”

In an attempt to tighten her grip on the party, Mamata said she would revamp the organisation right from the grassroots to fight the CPM’s onslaught tooth and nail.

Ajit Panja, a rebel with whom Mamata had a celebrated reunion only two days ago, and mayor Mukherjee echoed her while addressing the delegates.

Later, with Mamata by his side, Mukherjee said the party had committed a “blunder” by parting ways with the NDA before the Assembly elections in Bengal on the Tehelka issue.

“Mamata committed a blunder by snapping her ties with the ruling coalition at the Centre and hurriedly forging an alliance with the beleaguered state Congress here to fight the Assembly polls. This cost us so much so that we lost the elections in Bengal,” Mukherjee said.

Mamata agreed that she should not have parted from with the NDA to join forces with the Congress. “I was misguided by the Congress here who back-stabbed during the Assembly polls,” she said.

Addressing the rally, Union ministers Shahnawaz Hussain and Digvijay Singh came down heavily on the CPM “for throttling democracy” in Bengal.

“The Centre will see to it that the elections held here next time are free and fair. The CPM is trying to control the elections in Bengal in the manner the militants are trying to unleash terror in Kashmir,” Hussain added.

Despite intermittent rain, the rally witnessed a huge turnout.

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