Trinamul on Thursday took more steps to ramp up its organisation in BJP strongholds, with an organisational reshuffle down to the block level in Purulia and Bankura.
On Thursday, as part of an ongoing exercise for organisational overhaul ahead of the 2023 panchayat polls, Trinamul dropped around 70 per cent of their block leaders in 14 of the 21 Assembly constituencies that the BJP won in the two districts in 2021. Of Purulia’s nine Assembly seats, the BJP won six. Bankura has 12 Assembly seats, of which the BJP had won eight.
The changes followed a recent meeting of leadership of the districts with Trinamul national general-secretary Abhishek Banerjee at his Camac Street office in Calcutta.
“There were 25 block areas in the 14 seats that the BJP won in the two districts. Of the 25, the party leadership in 17 blocks — nine in Purulia and eight in Bankura — was fully changed. This was overseen by the supreme leadership in Calcutta,” said a Trinamul leader from Purulia.
“Our post-result analyses revealed that the BJP did well in these pockets primarily on account of either inertia of the local leadership or sabotage from sections therein. A thorough change at that level was deemed imperative,” he added.
A senior Trinamul leader in Calcutta said Abhishek had underscored three main criteria for the changes.
“First, we were to pick people on good terms with more or less everybody and with experience. Second, they are to be at least graduates. Finally, they were to be people who have handled such responsibilities in the past,” he said. “For each post, three names were short-listed for discussion before selection. At the Camac Street meetings, each name for, every post, was given due consideration before picking the final ones.”
Trinamul’s Purulia district unit chief Soumen Belthoria said Abhishek heeded every suggestion.
“It was made clear that those removed are not being sidelined and would be involved in other areas of organisational work....” he said.
A Trinamul MP said Abhishek was focusing more on the belts in the west and north where the BJP did well even amid the Mamata Banerjee-led sweep in most parts of the state last year.
Abhishek is meeting Trinamul leaders of districts, one at a time, over the past few weeks and instructing not only on preparations and reorganisation of district units but also warning against 2018-like highhandedness in the rural polls against which people’s bitterness was evident from the 2019 Lok Sabha election results. The BJP, for the first time in Bengal, won 18 Lok Sabha seats. Trinamul won 22.
Purulia and Bankura apart, Abhishek has already done this with the twin Midnapores, East Burdwan, Malda, Murshidabad, Darjeeling, the twin Dinajpurs, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Jhargram.
Abhishek “has told everyone that clean image, ability and general acceptance were priorities over everything else” for the 77,000-odd candidates in the rural elections, said a district leader.
At the end of this exercise, Abhishek and Mamata are likely to attend a meeting with the organisational leadership and office-bearers of the party down to the grassroots in the first half of September in Calcutta.
Support for Bilkis
Trinamul women’s wing, led by ministers Chandrima Bhattacharya and Shashi Panja, on Thursday held a protest march in Calcutta against the remission of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case in BJP-led Gujarat.
“She was brutally gang-raped and her kin were butchered during communal violence in Gujarat…. The perpetrators of the heinous crimes were found guilty and convicted. But they were released this year, that too on Independence Day. That is how the BJP shows its respect for women,” said Bhattacharya, demanding the cancellation of their release.
Mamata, however, is yet to end her public silence on the issue.