Abhishek Banerjee’s hoardings promise ‘new TMC in 6 months’

Updated on Aug 18, 2022 04:57 AM IST

The hoardings come even as multiple senior TMC leaders are under the scanner of government agencies for alleged corruption on a host of issues.

Some of the hoardings were put within 100 metres of CM’s residence.
Some of the hoardings were put within 100 metres of CM’s residence.
By, Kolkata

Dozens of hoardings put up in Kolkata since Tuesday featuring Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and promising the party’s emergence in a new avatar have triggered political speculation on differences in the party’s top hierarchy on the issue of corruption.

“A new TMC, just like the one people want, will emerge in six months,” state the hoardings, some of which are seen within 100 metres of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence at Kalighat.

The hoardings come even as multiple senior TMC leaders are under the scanner of government agencies for alleged corruption on a host of issues.

Former minister Partha Chatterjee has been arrested by the enforcement directorate (ED) in connection with irregulatiries in teacher recruitments for the state’s schools.

The Party’s Birbhum unit president, Anubrata Mondal, has been arrested in the case related to alleged cattle smuggling at the border with Bangladesh.

Since the hoardings did not have any mention or photograph of Banerjee — who founded the TMC in 1998 and continues to be its chairperson – the apparent cleansing process was perceived to be the initiative of Abhishek, 34, her nephew and the Lok sabha member for Diamond Harbour constituency. He was appointed TMC national general secretary in June, 2021.

Since July 21, Abhishek Banerjee has addressed party workers several times saying he would get rid of corrupt leaders in six months. According to party functionaries familiar with the developments, he has also held closed-door meetings with district-level office bearers to tell them that nomination for the 2023 panchayat polls would be given only to people with a clean image.

The hoardings have now fuelled speculations on differences in approach adopted by the chief minister and her nephew on the issue of corruption.

TMC state general secretary, Kunal Ghosh, who is known to be close to Abhishek Banerjee, said: “The hoardings are sending the message that a refined TMC is emerging. If Mamata Banerjee sends a message, you will see similar hoardings with her name on them.”

The party’s Lok Sabha member, Saugata Roy, said Abhishek Banerjee got a survey done on district-level leaders in view of the panchayat polls. “He wants corrupt people in the ranks to be routed out. This is part of an ongoing process,” said Roy.

The posters come in the backdrop of CM Banerjee’s public declaration on August 14 of Mondal’s innocence. Speaking at a rally on the eve of Independence Day, Banerjee had hit out at Union home minister Amit Shah and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the alleged smuggling case in which Mondal has been arrested.

In sharp contrast, the chief minister has taken a different approach to Chatterjee.

Days after he and his close aide Arpita Mukherjee were arrested on July 23, Chatterjee was dropped from the government and suspended from the party.

Banerjee reportedly did not receive Chatterjee’s phone calls while he was being arrested. Also, nobody from the TMC has visited him so far at the Presidency correctional home, where he is lodged.

One TMC leader who did not want to be named, said Banerjee is lenient towards Mondal, a school dropout who ran a small grocery shop before joining politics. He was the TMC’s only district-level leader to make it to the party’s national working committee last year without ever contesting an election. This was seen as a reward for his loyalty.

In sharp contrast, Chatterjee, a five-time MLA with a degree in business management, was a youth Congress activist alongside Banerjee before becoming the leader of the opposition in the Bengal assembly and the TMC secretary general.

“Mondal has been acknowledged as an efficient organiser who helped the party win all elections in Birbhum since 2011, when the TMC first came to power. He has significant influence even in surrounding districts. Chatterjee, on the other hand, is still not seen a mass leader despite winning five assembly polls,” the leader said.

“Moreover, unlike Mondal, Chatterjee was arrested after 21.90 crore, foreign currency and jewellery were recovered from the home of his aide. This was a blow to the party’s image. Also, the chief minister took a strong exception to the media reports on Chatterjee’s association with Mukherjee,” the leader added.

Opposition parties reacted sharply to the hoardings put up by Abhishek Banerjee’s followers.

“You may call Mamata Banerjee corrupt and authoritarian, but she is an icon in state politics even today. Nobody in the TMC can replace her,” said Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

The fact that Abhishek Banerjee and his wife, too, have been questioned by the CBI and ED in the coal smuggling case was also highlighted by opposition leaders.

Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said: “What we see in the TMC is a conspiracy to replace the party founder. This is quite different from the transition of power we witnessed during the Left Front era when Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee replaced Jyoti Basu. I am quite astonished to see these hoardings. Are Mamata Banerjee’s days really numbered?”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tanmay Chatterjee has spent more than three decades covering regional and national politics, internal security, intelligence, defence and corruption. He also plans and edits special features on subjects ranging from elections to festivals.

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