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Mamata Banerjee rejigs work to free herself ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections

Mamata Banerjee has redistributed political responsibilities in the party organisation along three broad categories — national politics, state administration, and state-level party organisation

india Updated: Jun 07, 2018 08:56 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
mamata Banerjee,TMC,2019 Elections
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has redistributed political responsibilities along three broad categories, said party leaders.(PTI File Photo)

With national politics becoming her top priority in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has decided to distance herself from state-level politics — and to a lesser degree from administrative responsibilities — for the time being.

Banerjee has redistributed political responsibilities in the party organisation along three broad categories — national politics, state administration, and state-level party organisation, said two senior TMC leaders. In a closed-door meet with her most trusted lieutenants and cabinet colleagues on May 22, she allocated individual responsibilities.

Since the panchayat elections, Banerjee has also started projecting her nephew and Lok Sabha MP, Abhishek Banerjee, as the main face in key programmes, be it the agitation against rising fuel prices or a party meeting in troubled Purulia, where the BJP has given the ruling party a run for its money in rural polls.

Significantly, Banerjee’s meeting with her lieutenants took place a day before she went to Bengaluru to attend the swearing-in ceremony of HD Kumaraswami, where leaders of most anti-BJP parties, such as Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD), Congress, CPI(M), Janata Dal, CPI, and NCP, were present.

A Trinamool leader, who was present in the meeting, said political affairs that include maintaining liaison with anti-BJP forces will be handled by Banerjee herself. She will be assisted by party chief whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay and TMC’s national spokesperson Derek O’Brien. A core team of four leaders — panchayat affairs and rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee, education minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee, finance and industries minister Amit Mitra, and power minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay — will handle state administrative affairs.

Managing state-level party organisation will be shouldered by general secretary and party MP Subrata Bakshi and Partha Chatterjee. The duo will be assisted by youth affairs minister Arup Biswas, municipal affairs and urban development minister Firhad Hakim, and state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari.

“In the closed door meeting, the chief minister also warned senior leaders that she does not want to hear complaints of non-cooperation from any of them,” said the minister.

“The CM is our leader and we will abide by what she told us,” said Subrata Mukherjee.

“I am an ordinary soldier of the party. I shall try to discharge whatever the party wants me to do,” said Abhishek Banerjee on Wednesday as he went out to lead an agitation against petrol price rise in south Kolkata.

Though Banerjee has not explicitly said anything in public about the reorganisation of responsibilities, on March 9 she made it clear she was withdrawing from panchayat polls, the last pan-Bengal political exercise less than a year before LS elections.

First Published: Jun 07, 2018 07:47 IST