A statement by Murshidabad pointsman Humayun Kabir on Wednesday that it would take no more 50 MLAs to jump fences for the Mamata gover nment to be reduced to a minority has sent alarm bells ringing in the ruling camp. Even as Kabir was summarily expelled the day after, a section in the Trinamool read the remarks as definite signs of a split in the works in the ruling camp. They voiced fears that national general secretary Mukul Roy, who has fallen from grace in the party and has been reduced to a sidelight in the wake of a perceived souring of ties with the Trinamool chief, could be close to engineering a split in the ruling camp.
Shaken by Kabir’s remarks, Trinamool has begun a silent witch-hunt among MLAs and top leaders in districts to find out which side of the Mukul-Mamata divide they are on.
In the light of Kabir’s statement and the words of praise for Roy, Trinamool insiders fear the latter has already begun rallying his loyalists to stage a silent coup in the ruling camp.
“We aren’t ruling out the possibility (of a split). Our party chief and all top leaders are aware that Mukul Roy could lure a sizeable section of our MLAs and top leaders away from the party,” a Trinamool MP close to Mamata said. Striking a discordant note, Kabir said the Trinamool has 191 MLAs and if 50 of them were to quit the party and switch allegiances, the government would be reduced to a minority forcing the chief minister to resign.
“As someone who has years of experience in politics, I ask you all to just wait and watch. A lot could happen in the coming months,” Kabir said.
“We think Roy is trying to get the numbers (to reduce the government to a minority). We’ve already begun taking stock. He is trying to get in touch with a number of MLAs and convince them (to ditch the party). We’re are on guard and steps are being taken to prevent a split in the party. Those trying to divide us must remember that Bengal voted for our leader Mamata Banerjee and always will,” the MP said.
Party insiders said top lieutenants Subrata Bakshi, Partha Chatterjee and Firhad Hakim have already been tasked with keeping a tab on Trinamool MLAs and pick out fence-sitters, if any. The party top brass has already begun reaching out to MLAs to sense where they stand in the current scenario.
Party sources said the top brass isn’t worried about MLAs who have been on record to slam the leadership, but fear the silent lot could well be exploring options.