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Didi’s charm offensive

After a season of political bickering and acrimony comes Didi’s charm offensive.

kolkata Updated: May 19, 2011 20:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

After a season of political bickering and acrimony comes Didi’s charm offensive. On Thursday morning before outgoing chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee could get up from his sleep, deputy leader of the Trinamool Congress legislative party Partha Chatterjee dropped at his south Kolkata residence to invite Bhattacharjee and his wife Meera to Mamata Banerjee’s swearing in ceremony on Friday.

“Our leader Mamata Banerjee directed me to visit the outgoing chief minister’s residence. We want him and his wife Meera Bhattacharjee to honour us with their presence during the swearing in ceremony,” said Partho Chatterjee.

It was at 8.30 am when Partho Chatterjee carrying invitation cards reached Bhattacharjee’s Palm Avenue residence. He was told wait for a few minutes and then called in.

“He called me in. I told him that Mamata Banerjee wants him and his wife to come to the ceremony. I handed him the invitation cards and he accepted it,” said Chatterjee.

Chatterjee’s visit marks a rare moment in Bengal where Trinamool Congress had pursued a policy of not sharing any dais, or platform, with CPI(M) leaders or ministers. About three years ago, Chatterjee himself walked off from a meeting of a chamber of commerce when he found industry minister Nirupam Sen and urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya on the dais.

Acrimony reached such a pitch that Bhattacharjee once remarked that uttering the Trinamool chief’s name was beneath his dignity.

But that season of bitterness seemed to change overnight after Mamata swept the Left out of power when the poll results were announced on May 13.

On May 17, Mamata Banerjee visited the residence of former Lok Sabha speaker and expelled CPI(M) central committee member Somnath Chatterjee for a courtesy visit.

On Thursday, minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy paid a visit to the Forward Bloc (a key constituent of the Left Front) headquarter and invited its leaders to the swearing in ceremony.

Significantly, none of the CPI(M) leaders has yet sent a congratulatory message to the Trinamool chief after her victory.

Mamata’s invitation may actually land Bhattacharjee in a strange predicament. If he does not attend, he may be seen as being lacking in courtesy, and if he does he would certainly be facing an uncomfortable situation.

“If Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee attends, he would be in the company of the family members of Singur, Nandigram and Netai victims. If he chooses to remain absent, people will say that he lacks political courtesy,” said a senior TMC leader.

Chatterjee had earlier said that CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose would also be invited.

First Published: May 19, 2011 20:44 IST