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A lesser role for Mamata’s nephew after Trinamool’s poor show in elections

The 31-year-old MP will now oversee the correction in the electoral rolls on behalf of the party. This is a job that requires coordination with the Election Commission on the revision of the rolls.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2019 16:09 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee,Lok Sabha election,Purulia
Mamata Banerjee gives nephew Abhishek benign responsibilities that don’t entail strictly measurable targets. .(Samir Jana/HT File Photo)

Just two days after the Lok Sabha election results were declared, lawmaker Abhishek Banerjee was removed as the in-charge of Purulia and Bankura, where the party lost, in an indication chief minister Mamata Banerjee was clipping her nephew’s wings.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wrested Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur seats from the ruling Trinamool Congress by margins of 200,000 174,000 and 78,047 votes respectively.

The 31-year-old MP from Diamond Harbour has been given responsibilities that don’t entail strictly measurable targets. He will now oversee the correction in the electoral rolls on behalf of the party. This is a job that requires coordination with the Election Commission on the revision of the rolls.

“We would do (oversee correction of) the electoral rolls very seriously. We attached great importance to it earlier,” the chief minister said at a party programme on Tuesday in Kolkata.

And, over the next few days, the 31-year-old MP from Diamond Harbour was seen leading the party’s protest on various issues.

On June 4, Abhishek Banerjee led the party’s protests in Kolkata against the hike in the prices of LPG and petroleum product. On June 12, he addressed the TMC’s press conference on the junior doctors’ strike and the next day he visited districts to meet party workers allegedly killed by political opponents.

“Abhishek Banerjee remains the most important youth leader of the party. Under his leadership, the party’s annual flagship political programme on July 21 in Kolkata will be organised and this year you will see unprecedented crowd,” TMC MLA from Goghat in Hooghly district Manas Majumdar said.

However, political analyst Amal Mukhopadhyay said a good number of party leaders are aggrieved with Abhishek’s meteoric rise in the TMC, but keep quiet to avoid Mamata Banerjee’s wrath.

“The shuffle in his role in the party has been made to ensure he cannot be pinpointed for any electoral disaster. He has put in charge of overseeing corrections in the voters’ list precisely to shield him from any blame,” Mukhopadhyay, the former principal of Presidency College, said.

Trinamool Congress leaders said on conditions of anonymity that despite the poor show in the two districts, Banerjee’s position remains undiminished within the party.

“Mamata Banerjee has created a situation in which Abhishek would get credit as one of the party’s generals for good results but could not be hauled up for poor performance,” said a TMC leader, who did not want to be identified.

There are murmurs in the party after a number of senior leaders were removed from their posts after the poll disaster but Abhishek’s influence has not waned.

Tourism minister and TMC’s Darjeeling district president Goutam Deb was removed as the chairperson of North Bengal Development Council. The party’s Jalpaiguri district unit chief Sourav Chakraborty was divested of his responsibility as the chairperson of Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority.

North Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh was removed as the Cooch Behar district unit president. So were Malda district unit president Moazzem Hussain and West Burdwan district unit chief V Shivdasan Dashu.

“Abhishek Banerjee is an exception,” said a leader, who was removed from his position.

The BJP’s West Bengal unit general secretary Sayantan Basu said that the more the chief minister promotes her nephew, the more her party will suffer.

“People are fed up with the arrogance of the nephew. Let Mamata Banerjee promote her nephew. The people will demote Mamata Banerjee,” Basu said.

During the Lok Sabha campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then BJP president Amit Shah repeatedly trained their guns on Abhishek Banerjee. Amit Shah even alleged that people in West Bengal were forced to pay ‘bhatija’ or nephew tax.

The young MP secured his second term in the Lok Sabha by more than quadrupling his winning margin from 71,298 votes in 2014 to 320,594 votes in 2019. He had joined politics after Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister in May 2011.

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 15:47 IST