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Mamata's birthday wishes for Buddhadeb draw Mukul’s jibe

Mamata Banerjee also sent flowers, sweets and cakes to the former chief minister’s two-bedroom government residence at Palm Avenue in South Kolkata.

kolkata Updated: Mar 02, 2018 17:54 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,Buddhadeb bhattacharjee,Trinamool
After years of acrimony Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee exchanged greetings with former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (seated in the middle) before she was sworn in as chief minister on May 20, 2011. (PTI File Photo)

Birthday wishes from Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday has prompted BJP leader Mukul Roy to comment that ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition CPI(M) are “two sides of the same coin.”

Roy’s jibe comes at a time when Bengal is looking at rural polls in May-June. The panchayat polls are crucial for the Left but more so for the BJP since it is trying to secure a foothold in Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party wants to secure at least half of the 44 constituencies in the state.

Mukul Roy, who was the all-India general secretary of Trinamool Congress, switched over to the BJP in November 2017. He has been asked to chart the strategy for the coming rural elections.

Read: Mamata Banerjee pays ailing Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee a visit; offers help

Bhattacharjee turned 73 on Thursday. “Birthday greetings to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, former Chief Minister of West Bengal,” twitted Mamata Banerjee. She also sent flowers, sweets and cakes to the veteran CPI(M) leader’s two-bedroom government residence at Palm Avenue in South Kolkata. Banerjee’s security personnel delivered the gifts.

“There is no difference between Trinamool and CPI(M) right now. The chief minister enquired about the health of Bhattacharjee on earlier occasions as well. Though she came to power fighting the CPI(M), she is with the CPI(M),” said Roy. Bhattacharjee was chief minister for 10 years before the Left Front was defeated in 2011.

Read: Mukul Roy’s induction leaves Bengal BJP disturbed, Left happy and Congress indifferent

Though Banerjee built her career by waging a long struggle against the CPI(M) during which she was not even on talking terms with Bhattacharjee, she recently enquired about the health of her predecessor.

In October last year she came to know that Bhattacharjee was suffering from severe respiratory problem. The chief minister went to Bhattacharjee’s residence and offered to get him treated at a government hospital. The Marxist leader however did not want to get hospitalised.

Read: TMC could have given tough fight in Tripura but suffered due to traitor, says Mamata

Earlier this week, Banerjee expressed her displeasure at the lack of maintenance of the humble flat where Bhattacharjee lives with his wife. She asked Kolkata Municipal Corporation authorities to expedite the repair work. She also proposed that Bhattacharjee and his wife shift to a government guest house during the renovation.

Senior Trinamool leader and panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee refused to react to Roy’s comment. “What I can say about this remark?” he said. Even Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee did not react.

Read: Phone tapping row: Delhi HC disposes former Trinamool leader Mukul Roy’s plea

Interestingly, a senior Bengal BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said he personally did not endorse Roy’s comment. “A chief minister conveying birthday wish to her predecessor is an act of political courtesy. It would have been better if Roy refrained from making such statements,” he said.

On February 28, Banerjee, a bitter critic of the BJP, said on the floor of state assembly that she would be happy to see the CPI(M) win the Tripura assembly polls. The polls results will be announced on Saturday.

First Published: Mar 02, 2018 17:54 IST