Eyes on polls, TMC reshuffles three district units; Jitendra Tiwari sidelined
- The most significant reshuffle was made in West Burdwan where two adjacent Lok Sabha seats are represented by Union ministers Babul Supriyo and SS Ahluwalia.
With eyes on the coming assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership on Sunday made some major organisational changes in the districts of South Dinajpur, West Burdwan and Malda where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made noticeable inroads in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Significantly, the ruling party once again projected senior leaders apparently to weed out dissent that cropped up among a section of veterans after comparatively younger leaders were given important portfolios in district units.
The most significant reshuffle was made in West Burdwan where two adjacent Lok Sabha seats are represented by Union ministers Babul Supriyo and SS Ahluwalia.
The district’s heavyweight leader Jitendra Tiwari, who turned rebel in December last year and resigned from the post of administrative head of the Asansol municipal corporation and president of the district unit before holding a meeting with Suvendu Adhikari before the latter joined the BJP, has found no place in the new setup.
Though not included in the new district committee in West Burdwan, Tiwari said, "My best wishes are with the new team. If they want me to play any role I will be obliged to help as a faithful party worker. I never hankered for any high post."
Law minister Moloy Ghatak, a senior legislator, has been made chairman of the committee and Apurba Mukherjee is the new president.
In north Bengal, where the BJP won seven of the region’s eight Lok Sabha polls, the South Dinajpur district, which is located adjacent to Bangladesh and has a 24.63 per cent Muslim population, has witnessed the growth of the saffron camp in recent months. BJP’s Sukanta Majumdar wrested the Balurghat Lok Sabha seat in 2019.
On Sunday, former lawmaker Biplab Mitra, who joined the BJP in 2019 but returned to the TMC in July last year, was made chairman of the district committee. TMC leaders said Mitra was rewarded for his loyalty.
In Malda, where BJP’s Khagen Murmu wrested the Malda North Lok Sabha seat last year, the TMC made veteran leader Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury the chairman of the new district committee, retaining Mausam Noor as the district president.
The reshuffles were announced after the party said that Satabdi Roy, the three-time Lok Sabha member from Birbhum district who voiced dissent against the leadership and triggered speculation that she might join the BJP, would be one of the vice-presidents of the state committee.
The changes however could not address dissent everywhere.
In Howrah district, the TMC is in an uncomfortable position because of forest minister Rajib Banerjee who said in a live social media post on Saturday that he was not being allowed to work freely in the party. On Sunday, Banerjee was conspicuous by his absence at a grand rally that minister and district unit chairman Arup Roy led in the afternoon. “If anyone has anything to say about the party then he should raise it inside the party, not in public,” said Roy.
TMC spokesperson and former Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh said, "These are purely internal decisions of the party and taken for the betterment of the party."
While TMC leaders attempted to play down the organisational changes as “internal matters” of the party, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said, “This is disaster management by the TMC because it is disintegrating. Mamata Banerjee is trying to keep everybody happy but it will not help.”
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- The opposition leader is also scheduled to meet senior TMC minister Firhad Hakim and hold talks about the upcoming Bengal polls.
- TMC and BJP have dismissed the Left rally as insignificant. While the TMC claims CM Mamata Banerjee will return to power for the third time, BJP says the elections are bi-polar and there is no space for the Left.
- The BJP lodged a complaint in the Phoolbagan police station. Senior BJP leaders of the state rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.
- The TMC asked the EC why the polls could not be held in fewer phases.
- She alleged that the poll panel scheduled the election dates keeping in mind the BJP’s demands.
- The CBI earlier questioned Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in the case.
- Besides rallies, the chief minister’s itinerary could include religious stopovers at important places of worship.
- "Modi government only makes false promises, has done nothing to bring down fuel prices," PTI quoted the Bengal chief minister as saying.