MAMATA RALLY SHOWDOWN WITH PANJA 

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By BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 22.06.01
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Calcutta, June 22 :    Calcutta, June 22:  All seven Trinamul Congress MPs have reaffirmed their faith in Mamata Banerjee and left the decision to her on possible return to the NDA. The move is being perceived as a setback to the rebel MP Ajit Panja who has lined up a convention of party dissidents at Mahajati Sadan for June 30. Determined to counter this, Mamata has also planned a rally on the same day to protest yesterday's police firing at Bansberia in Hooghly district. "We are not in a hurry on NDA return and the decision on this score is entirely left with Mamata who is our leader," said party MP Bikram Sarkar said tonight. He said she is working overtime to see if the entry to the BJP-led coalition is possible "keeping the party's prestige intact." Sarkar was, however, unable to attend tonight's meeting of party MPs at a dinner hosted MP from Srirampur, Akbar Ali Khondakar. Sarkar said he had spoken to Mamata last night expressing his inability to attend the dinner meeting. "I have decided to skip the dinner because of my daughter's illness," he further said. Trinamul sources said the party's possible return to the NDA figured prominently in the meeting where Mamata had explained her difficulties in taking a "hasty decision" on this score. "I am facing pressure from 60 party MLAs who have already decided to coordinate with the ally Congress on the floor of the Assembly on anti-Left Front issues," Mamata was learnt to have told the MPs. At this, those present , including Ranjit Panja, Ajit Panja's brother had supported Mamata and they would go by the decision taken by her. Meanwhile, Mamata's "showdown" with Ajit Panja on June 30 is being viewed by dissidents as an attempt to shift the focus of the rally held by the rebel MP at Mahajati Sadan. Trinamul rebels are particularly furious as Mamata's rally, which will begin at Subodh Mullick Square and wind up in front of Metro Cinema, as it is being called to protest "inhuman torture" of jute workers by the management 10 days after the police firing at Ganges Jute Mill. Mamata herself will be present at the rally. "What is the point shedding crocodile tears over jute workers 10 days after the incident. The rally is simply being organised to shift the focus from our indoor rally at Mahajati Sadan," a dissident said. Trinamul's labour arm president, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, said that the June 30 rally was not an attempt to divert the attention of the people from Panja's rally. "We had initially planned the rally on July 1 but Mamata told us to bring it forward by a day as B.C. Roy's birth anniversary falls on that day," said Chattopadhyay. Trinamul committee formed in Jharkhand: Mamata today formed Trinamul's state committee in Jharkhand and appointed Karan Chandra Maradi as its president. Talking to newspersons, Mamata said that after West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Tripura, Jharkhand is the fifth state to have a full-fledged Trinamul state committee.