Mamata Banerjee’s Party Gets New Top Group Amid Rift With Team Nephew


Mamata Banerjee called the urgent meeting amid a growing rift in the Trinamool Congress (File).

Kolkata:

Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress on Saturday announced a 20-member national working committee following a meeting to discuss a growing rift over a faction led by her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. Mr Banerjee is likely to continue as National General Secretary but an official announcement is awaited.

Ms Banerjee will later name the new office bearers of the party, senior Trinamool leader Partha Chatterjee told reporters after the meeting at the West Bengal Chief Minister’s home with senior members including her nephew in attendance.

The announcement was ostensibly meant to address simmering tensions over Abhishek Banerjee’s push to promote a ‘One Man, One Post’ policy in the party, resented by some of the party’s older guard, some of whom hold multiple posts within the ruling establishment.

But many saw the meeting as reflective of the reports of friction between Ms Banerjee and her increasingly ambitious nephew, who is effectively the party’s second in command.

It is also seen as a move by the Chief Minister of taking control of a situation that could split the party between the old guard and young turks.

“After Mamata Banerjee was re-elected as the chairperson of the party, she had announced a small committee to look after party affairs. Today there was a meeting of that committee, and in that meeting, she has announced the new national working committee of the party,” Mr Chatterjee said.

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“Mamata Banerjee will later appoint the new office bearers and then it would be sent to the election commission,” he added.

Among the leaders who found a place in the national working committee are Amit Mitra, Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Bakshi, Sudip Bandopadhyay, Abhishek Banerjee, Anubrata Mondal, Aroop Biswas, Firhad Hakim and Yashwant Sinha.

Caught in the crossfire of the row has been I-PAC, the political consultancy group of Prashant Kishor, which has been working with the Trinamool since the West Bengal elections, with Abhishek Banerjee seen as the main liaison between the party and the savvy political consultants.

On Friday, a public spat erupted between Trinamool leader Chandrima Bhattacharya and I-PAC after she alleged that her social media accounts had been “misused” by Prashant Kishor’s team – a claim that was promptly challenged.

“A Twitter account in my name was created by I-PAC before the election. Today it posted something about ‘one person one post’ without my knowledge. I strongly protest against it,” Ms Bhattacharya was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The I-PAC countered, “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’.”

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A soundbite by Ms Banerjee to journalists on Monday while on her way to Uttar Pradesh to help Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s campaign also fanned buzz about a fallout between the Trinamool chief and nephew, who is spearheading the party’s Goa foray.

Asked if she was going to campaign in Goa, she said “Somebody is doing, so I am not. I am going to other places… in greater interest”, a curious comment and an even more curious reference to Abhishek Banerjee as “somebody”.

An internal squabble over the campaign came to a head last week when two competing lists of candidates for the upcoming civic polls came out of the party – prompting Mamata Banerjee to take a side and back the faction perceived as the old guard.

Sources close to I-PAC, however, claim there is no rift with the Chief Minister.



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