Battlefield Bengal: Mamata announces massive rejig in Trinamool

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Battlefield Bengal: Mamata announces massive rejig in Trinamool

Kolkata:  With the political centrestage set for the high-voltage West Bengal Assembly polls scheduled in 2021, the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and its arch rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are busy chalking out their electoral strategies against each other.

At a time when state BJP leaderships held high-level meetings with their Delhi counterparts in the national capital on Thursday, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee reshuffled the party’s organisational structures in various districts across West Bengal.

Spiralling protests over Amphan relief fund irregularities had already plagued the state’s incumbent formation with many senior-level leaders in the districts getting embroiled in the controversy. Be it distribution of food grains and tarpaulin in cyclone-ravaged pockets of Sunderbans or inclusion of ghost names in the list of beneficiaries – Trinamool Congress’ name cropped up almost everywhere.

To troubleshoot the party’s image in run up to the next year’s elections, Banerjee made a number of changes in the Trinamool Congress from its core committee members to district presidents.

Announcing a major rejig, the West Bengal CM gave more priorities to younger and new faces in the party’s forefront that are relatively clean as far as their political image is concerned. She announced a new state committee with 21 members in it and a seven-member core panel of Trinamool Congress that included names of Abhishek Banerjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Bakshi, Firhad Hakim, Kalyan Banerjee and Shanta Chetri, Trinamool sources said.

Besides this, the presidents of several districts including Howrah, Coochbehar, Purulia, Nadia, Jhargram and South Dinajpur were also removed.

New and younger faces such as Laxmi Ratan Shukla in Howrah, Mahua Moitra in Nadia, Dulal Murmu in Jhargram, Gurupad Tudu in Purulia and Shyamal Santra in Bankura have been given charge of the districts.

Shukla who replaced senior Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal cooperative minister Arup Roy, said: “I will try to perform to the best of my ability. I will do my 100 per cent in the role that I have been given. I will perform my duties with utmost honesty and responsibility.”

Interestingly, former People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) leader from Maoist-hit Lalgarh Chatradhar Mahato was included in the Trinamool state committee along with Churamoni Mahato and Sukumar Hnasda. Mahato was a prominent Maoist (Naxal) leader who gained prominence following the Salboni blast in November 2008. In 2020 he joined Trinamool Congress after being released from jail recently.

Sources in the party said that giving importance to Mahato at the state level can turn out to be Mamata’s political masterstroke ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls. Mahato who was convicted under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in 2015, will help Mamata to control the dreaded western region of Bengal known as Junglemahal – an imaginary belt now comprising four districts of Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and West Midnapore.

On the other hand, state BJP has also been holding district-wise mega-meetings to cement their booth-level organisations. BJP sources said in the Chintan meeting, the BJP leadership is meeting state leaders from all districts to analyse the political situation at the grassroots. The sessions are chaired by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargia, Rahul Sinha, Mukul Roy and others. The series of meetings will continue for the entire week, sources said.

Meanwhile, former Kolkata mayor and West Bengal minister Sovan Chatterjee who had resigned from the Trinamool Congress after a tiff with the party chief and joined the BJP in Bengal, was requested to join the sessions virtually via video conferencing. Political observers said the saffron brigade now wants to activate all opposition political entities across Bengal who can put up a strong fight against Trinamool in the days to come.

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