The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Funds feud crack in Mamata bastion

Calcutta, April 14: Is there a whiff of rebellion in Calcutta South, Mamata Banerjee’s bailiwick'

One of the Nationalist Trinamul Congress’s better known councillors, a senior college teacher, appears to be walking the path of rebellion. Reason: she cannot allow herself to be further exploited by her partymen in the name of Mamata.

“Enough is enough. It’s time I stood up and said no to the exploitation that is going on for the past four years,” said Mala Mahalanobis, a mathematics teacher at Charuchandra College in south Calcutta.

She wrote to Mamata as well as Anil Mukherjee, chairman of the Trinamul-controlled Calcutta Municipal Corporation board, detailing her exploitation and offering to quit.

Mamata, away in the districts, was not available for comment. One of her close aides, Mukul Roy, also a party secretary, said: “The allegations are serious, we are looking into them. We cannot afford to have this kind of a situation in Calcutta South where many things are at stake.”

According to Mahalanobis, who is responsible for Ward 92, covering the Dhakuria-Selimpur-Sahidnagar belt, she has underwritten the cost of nearly three dozen billboards, an equal number of Mamata cutouts and a host of banners. The forced pollspend has set her back by quite a sum, yet demands on her for more were steadily rising, she said today.

Apparently, gunning for Mahalanobis — regarded as a favourite of Mamata — is local Trinamul block president Prabir Chakraborty, a follower of Saugata Roy, the local Trinamul MLA who is now a candidate in the Diamond Harbour parliamentary constituency.

Last Thursday, Chakraborty led a group of supporters and tried to storm Mahalanobis’s ward office. The raid failed, thanks to resistance put up by the latter’s supporters. “If some of my associates had not come to my rescue, anything could have happened that day,” a visibly upset Mahalanobis said.

Chakraborty today admitted to having mobilised some party workers against Mahalanobis on Thursday.

“I was actually trying to give expression to the sentiments of party workers in regard with the councillor. Ever since she has become a councillor, Mahalanobis has stopped visiting the affected areas of the ward and are acting at the behest of some her loyalists,” he alleged.

Contesting the charge, Mahalanobis said a section of partymen, going against Mamata’s philosophy, is increasingly putting pressure on her to “provide more funds” for Mamata’s campaign.

“I am a simple college teacher. I have very meagre savings into which I have dipped for party work and nothing is left of it. And I cannot be expected to raise funds in the manner some in our party do. I know Mamatadi won’t like it. I cannot be expected to underwrite costs of hoardings and cutouts from my small salary indefinitely. I want out.”

Asked about the demand for more funds from Mahalanobis, an agitated Chakraborty said: “If the ward councillor refuses to provide funds for hoardings, cutouts and posters for Didi, then who will bear the expenses' Shall I bear it from my own pocket'” he asked.

Realising that the standoff is bound to take its toll on the party organisation in south Calcutta, CMC chairman Mukherjee has asked Mahalanobis to continue.

“Mala is an educated person and it betrays bad taste to exploit her for money. I shall personally visit her ward and settle the matter in a day or two,” he added.

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