Mamata calls meeting amid TMC rumblings over ‘one-man-one-post’

Feb 11, 2022 11:33 PM IST

The party had adopted the policy during its organisational rejig last year. Abhishek has been an outspoken advocate of the policy since 2021, when he was made TMC national general secretary

A social media campaign on Friday pitching for the ‘one-man-one-post’ policy intensified the ongoing rift between supporters of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.

Kolkata, India - Feb. 2, 2022: All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses the media after being re-elected as chairperson of the party, at Netaji Indoor stadium, in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday, February 2, 2022. (Photo by Samir Jana/Hindustan Times) (Samir Jana/HT Photo)
Kolkata, India - Feb. 2, 2022: All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses the media after being re-elected as chairperson of the party, at Netaji Indoor stadium, in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday, February 2, 2022. (Photo by Samir Jana/Hindustan Times) (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

The party had adopted the policy during its organisational rejig last year. Abhishek has been an outspoken advocate of the policy since June 2021, when he was made national general secretary of the TMC. At the time, he stepped down from the post of president of the youth wing, saying younger people should be given an opportunity to rise from the ranks.

But in November 2021, the policy was relaxed by chief minister Banerjee to nominate six MLAs for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections. Four of them were councillors in the outgoing board.

On Friday posts appeared on social media tagged with #OneManOnePost. A counter-campaign was also started with the hashtag ‘Sesh Kotha Didi Bolbe (Didi will say the last word)’.

According to party functionaries familiar with developments, chief minister Banerjee has called a meeting with Hakim, Abhishek Banerjee, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee, national vice-president Subrata Bakshi and state minister Aroop Biswas on Saturday over the campaign.

Elections for four important civic bodies -- Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri, and Chandannagar -- are scheduled to be held the same day. Elections to 108 civic bodies in West Bengal are scheduled to be held on February 27.

Abhishek, who returned from Goa on Friday after campaigning for the assembly polls there, was unavailable for comment.

Hakim distanced the party from the campaign. “The one-man-one-post campaign is not endorsed by the TMC. Nobody should create confusion on social media. It is a crime. When the policy was adopted, it was also mentioned that the party chairperson can change it if a need arise. She has been re-elected chairperson again (during the recent organizational poll). She will call a meeting and formulate a new policy,” she said.

The hashtag campaign drew attention because not only a host of TMC youth wing leaders shared posts but even some young members of the Banerjee family, including Abhishek’s cousins, Akash Banerjee, Agnisha Banerjee and Aditi Gayen, wrote posts demanding its implementation. Most of the posts carried a video showing the chief minister announcing the policy in June last year.

Sudip Raha, a youth wing leader and supporter of Abhishek, said: “We all heard Mamata Banerjee saying that our party will implement the one-man-one-post policy. She is our supreme leader. If she says it will not be enforced, we will accept her decision.”

A post was put up from the social media handle of state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya, but it was deleted later.

Bhattacharya alleged the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) had put up the post and denied any involvement in the campaign. “The post was uploaded without my knowledge. This was not my official page. It was done by I-PAC. I never went against the chief minister. I am totally loyal to her. I condemn this,” said Bhattacharya, I-PAC, which was launched by TMC’s election strategist Prashant Kishor, was hired to help the TMC in the 2021 assembly polls. Kishor is helping the TMC contest the elections in Goa as well.

The TMC’s expansion programme into other states is being spearheaded by Abhishek, who introduced Kishor to chief minister Banerjee after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wrested 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, dealing a blow.

I-PAC quickly disassociated itself from the campaign saying it does not control the TMC’s social media pages.

“I-PAC doesn’t handle any digital properties of @AITCofficial or any of its leaders. Anyone making such claim is either uninformed or is blatantly lying. AITC should look into if and how their digital properties and/or that of their leaders are being “allegedly (mis)used,” the company tweeted on its official handle.

According to party leaders who were familiar with the matter, disciplinary action might be taken against Kamarhati legislator Madan Mitra for his remarks on social media in recent weeks.

“I am not an Abhishek Banerjee loyalist. If Mamata Banerjee says one man can hold all posts I will accept it. If the party expels me I will accept that as well. Before taking action against me why doesn’t the party set up a commission and ask common people to depose before it? Let people say if I uttered even a word against the party,” said Mitra.

The BJP took potshots at the ruling party, saying the “so-called revolt” might be staged to project Abhishek.

“While this fiasco may appear to be a conflict between Mamata Banerjee and her nephew over control of the party, we will not surprised if all this if found to be staged to project Abhishek before the mantle is handed to him,” said Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

The discord in the party surfaced last week when two lists of candidates for elections to the state’s 112 civic bodies were released. The list approved by the chief minister was physically released on February 4 by Partha Chatterjee and Subrata Bakshi. The second one was uploaded almost simultaneously on the party’s Facebook and Twitter page.

Discrepancies in around 150 of 2,270 names in the two lists triggered agitations in 19 Bengal districts.

At least two TMC district leaders left the party on not getting nominated while a former municipality chairman declared that he will contest on his own.

On February 7, Mamata Banerjee empowered her team to enforce her decision in selection of candidates and overrule the second list that was uploaded, allegedly without her consent.

Hakim alleged that the second list was uploaded by people who were given unauthorised access to passwords to the party’s social media accounts by insiders. Significantly, the second list was not removed till Friday.

While the list was the last post on the party’s Twitter handle, a video of Abhishek’s campaign in Goa was the only post that could be seen on the Facebook page after the list was released.

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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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