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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

West Midnapore: Mamata Banerjee for Trinamul’s all-out attack on BJP ahead of Lok Sabha polls

Didi asks TMC leaders to bury the hatchet and prepare for polls

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 11.01.24, 05:58 AM
Mamata Banerjee addresses Trinamul leaders from West Midnapore in Calcutta on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee addresses Trinamul leaders from West Midnapore in Calcutta on Wednesday. The Telegraph

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday asked Trinamul Congress leaders from West Midnapore to hit the streets against the BJP without any delay and intensify ground-level political activities ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, besides stressing the need to stop exposing kinks in the organisation through public statements.

The twin diktats during a closed-door meeting at Mamata’s Kalighat residence not only indicated that she was firmly in the saddle on matters related to Trinamul’s organisational activities but also captured her displeasure with the public bickering among a section of leaders.

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“Don’t get scared of the BJP if it tries to brand us as a party of thieves.... You should know that BJP leaders are the biggest thieves. We have to counter their narrative and let the people know what we have done,” a Trinamul leader present in the meeting quoted Mamata as saying.

“You all have to hit the streets and prepare for the Lok Sabha polls. Forget all differences, stop issuing statements,” Mamata reportedly said during the meeting.

The chief minister, who is also the chairperson of Trinamul, conducted her first organisational meeting with 60-odd party leaders, including MLAs, MPs and ministers from West Midnapore, to discuss the organisational issues ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

A Trinamul leader said she would hold separate meetings with leaders from various districts as part of a larger plan to prepare them for the impending battle.

A source in Trinamul said Mamata made it clear during the two-hour meeting that she would directly monitor the party’s activities in the run-up to the 2024 general elections. The signal, he said, was needed to clear the confusion that has gripped the ruling party over a debate on the relevance of old guards vis-a-vis the young brigade in recent months.

“Didi is not happy with the unnecessary debate on old versus new as this is exposing kinks in the party.... She made it clear that she was not happy with the trend of leaders issuing statements and engaging in public debates. Didi sounded a warning that the party would not tolerate such acts and would initiate stern action against those violating her diktat,” said a leader, who was present in the meeting.

Mamata reportedly told the Trinamul leaders about the role of the party’s old guard, who made major contributions to Trinamul in the past three decades, since its inception in 1998.

“If any leader turns up to comment on party issues publicly, I will just remove him or her from the party. If one leader speaks, then another turns up with his or her point. I would not tolerate this further,” a Trinamul leader from West Midnapore quoted Mamata as saying.

“She made it clear that she was not happy with a few spokespersons and hinted that a new list of spokespersons may be drawn up soon,” the source said.

Unlike the existing list, which is loaded with new generation leaders owing allegiance to Abhishek, the new list, according to multiple sources, would be a mix of old guards and youth brigade.

This conflict between the new and the old guards is not new in Bengal’s political landscape — such debates had become a regular feature in the CPM during the fag end of the Left rule. Trinamul’s case is different as the debate seems to have divided the party along two factions: one belonging to party supremo Mamata Banerjee and the other to her nephew and party national general secretary Abhishek.

Sources in Trinamul said the divide was affecting the party as Abhishek, believed to be the leader of the lot championing the cause of the young brigade, had decided to lie low and conveyed his refusal to look into organisational matters beyond Diamond Harbour, his Lok Sabha constituency.

Against this backdrop, there were speculations on whether Abhishek would be present at the meeting. “He did turn up at the meeting, but it seemed he was not in his usual self,” said a source.

The Diamond Harbour MP, however, spoke briefly at the meeting after Mamata’s prodding, said a source. The party’s national general secretary stood up and shared his experience of Nabo Jowar Yatra — during which he extensively travelled across the state to highlight the central government’s alleged failures and focus on the Trinamul regime’s successes — before promising that he would work according to the instruction of the party’s chairperson.

During the meeting, Mamata assigned a task to Abhishek by asking him to prepare a booklet on issues like the Narendra Modi government’s denial of funds to
Bengal and the saffron camp’s politics of discrimination against the minorities and the joblessness across the country. The party has plans to distribute the booklets among people ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Manas Bhuniya, a veteran leader from the West Midnapore district and a minister, was assigned to brief the media after the meeting.

“We don’t have any fights at all. There is no debate over old and new in our party. We will fight together,” he said, making it clear Mamata wanted the message of unity to be conveyed to the rank and file.

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