Monday’s bypoll results may put the lid on the runaway dissent in Trinamool Congress, felt a section of party leaders. The chief minister herself said ebulliently that her party is intact.
“The party is intact and it is a family,” said Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool chief on Monday. She added, “Nobody can divide the Trinamool Congress.”
“It is undeniable that this victory will give her relief and at least she would be able to say that despite all odds, people are still with her,” said a senior leader of Trinamool Congress requesting anonymity.
“It is the victory of Mamata Banerjee and it should be remembered that Trinamool gets votes just because of her,” Jyotipriya Mullick, state food and supplies minister and the president of North 24-Parganas Trinamool Congress, said.
The Trinamool chief had been battling on multiple fronts, with several senior party members under CBI scanner over alleged links to the Saradha chief fund scam, the Opposition sensing blood and questioning Mamata’s image in the light of the chit fund muddle and a rising tide of dissent within. Even as top opposition leaders stepped up heat on the ruling camp over alleged Saradha taint, Trinamool also faced trouble within as a section of party elders drifted from the party’s official line with regard to scam and stirred up buzz of a split. While not raising the banner of revolt, Mukul Roy, the de-facto second-in-command and Trinamool national general secretary, signaled a drift from the party of which he was a founding member, after he faced CBI grilling in connection with the multi-crore swindle. Talking to mediapersons after a strenuous grilling session with the elite sleuths, Roy didn’t play the victim card or cry political vendetta as some Trinamool colleagues named in connection with the scam. He said he was ready to extend all support to the CBI and would willingly report to the sleuths whenever summoned.
Unlike Madan Mitra who had his supporters lustily cheering him on and literally serenading him nearly every time he was produced in court after being arrested in connection with the scam, Roy urged his loyalists not to take out protests after being summoned by the CBI.
Voicing outrage over Mitra’s arrest, a group of former sporting greats and Trinamool sympathisers staged a demonstration in the heart of the city and urged more defiance and protests against the CBI. The Trinamool chief, too, shared the dais at the do. However, Roy decided against rallying his troops after CBI summonses and vowed to help the sleuths crack the case.
Even as buzz grew over a strain in ties between Roy and the Trinamool chief, there were fresh rumours that the former could be close to floating a breakaway outfit with his loyalists. On a day Roy chose to keep away from a key brainstorming session of the Trinamool, several party members from districts rallied around him and pledged full support.
Significantly, as the results came out on Monday, the Trinamool chief credited the twin victories to party workers. “This is a victory of our workers, not leaders,” Banerjee said on Monday.
“Trinamool’s victory today can’t wash away the Saradha taint,” Congress leader Arunabha Ghosh told HT on Monday.