June Maliah gets bitter taste of TMC’s factional fights, trouble also in Bankura
No end to Trinamul Congress’s grassroots troubles even as factional feuds within the party keeps popping up its ugly hydra-head across various parts of the state in the midst of supremo Mamata Banerjee’s Didir Suraksha Kavach outreach programme to pacify ground-level angst ahead of the upcoming panchayat polls.
While on Saturday it was actor-turned-politician June Maliah who was at the receiving end of inner-party differences in Midnapore Town, a day later violent scenes were witnessed in Bankura where a section of disgruntled party workers ransacked their own party office before locking it up for the local leaders.
Ironically, on Sunday the party released the music video of the already-initiated Didir Suraksha Kavach programme for its greater and more impactful reach. TMC’s youth president Sayoni Ghosh and youth leaders Debangshu Bhattacharya and Trinankur Bhattacharya did the honours in Calcutta. The party roped in celebrated composer Jeet Ganguly, who composed music and lent his voice to the campaign.
Maliah, a two-time MLA from Midnapore Sadar was at her constituency to hold a preparatory rally to garner support for a public meeting of TMC all-India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee scheduled on 4 February at the Anandapur High School ground in Keshpur, West Midnapore and also inspect the venue of the proposed meeting.
She also attempted a face-to-face interaction with locals in Midnapore town as Didir Doot (emissary of Mamata Banerjee) before holding her own rally.
Although the rally, which originated from Vidyasagar Hall and covered large parts of Midnapore Town, took place without a glitch, Chameli Khatun, a TMC worker from Ward No 13 alleged that she and others in her ward were threatened by the party’s local councillor, Mojammel Hossain, of dire consequences if they dared to attend the rally of the legislator.
“Mojammel individually visited and threatened all households of this ward that he would stop all government and municipal facilities to the beneficiaries if they attended the rally of our MLA,” Khatun alleged.
Hossain rubbished the claim as an “outright lie” and counter-alleged that Maliah had ignored him during her visit and was trying to hobnob with Dr Ershad Ali, a former TMC leader who was expelled from the party for fighting Hossain as an Independent candidate after failing to secure a party ticket in the civic body polls.
An embarrassed Maliah quickly left the spot after supporters of the TMC’s ruling faction gathered at the Panpara area of Midnapore Town where she was interacting with the locals and raised slogans accusing her of driving a wedge through the organization by extending support to discredited leaders.
The Midnapore municipal area hasn’t remained a politically smooth turf for the TMC. Of late, the party has been battling factional feuds between Midnapore municipal chairman Soumen Khan and the party’s town president Biswanath Pandab for a while now. Not so long ago, 11 of the 20 councillors of the Midnapore civic body, purportedly belonging to the Pandab camp, had written to Abhishek Banerjee expressing no-confidence against Khan who jumped ship from the Congress before becoming the TMC’s municipal chairman.
Khan is known to be close to Maliah and the latter had thrown her weight behind the chairman to bring the so-called “rebel councillors” back on track.
Political observers feel that tougher times await an embattled Maliah and the days leading up to the upcoming panchayat polls would be a test of her mettle as a politician.
Speaking about Saturday’s spurt, TMC’s Midnapore district president Sujoy Hazra said although he wasn’t exactly aware of what happened with the MLA, he believed that the allegations made against Hossain were “false” and made with “ulterior motives”.
Meanwhile, things took an ugly turn at the TMC’s party office at Machatora in the Simlapal area of Bankura on Sunday morning after a section of TMC party workers ransacked furniture at the premises, vandalized the office and locked its door to stop local leaders from accessing it.
The agitated workers had gathered before the party office demanding the removal of the party’s Anchal Sabhadhipati’ Sisir Satpathy who, they accused of corruption in Avaas Yojna, nepotism and embezzling party funds. Satpathy had, reportedly, assured workers that he would personally remain present and submit the accounts before the workers. The crowd turned berserk when he failed to turn up as promised.
The TMC block leadership, however, claimed that the vandals weren’t TMC workers although they carried party flags but were representatives of local contractors who had an axe to grind for not getting work contracts. The party, it was learnt, is in the process of filing a police complaint.