Mamata overhauls Trinamool amid growing dissent

Party chairperson announced a 20-member working committee, new office bearers to be announced

Amidst ongoing dissent in the Trinamool Congress, party chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Saturdayoverhauled the partystructure, putting in place a national working committee comprising of 20 members. With the announcement of the working committee, all existing posts of party office bearers, including that of national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, have ceased to exist.The party is likely to make new appointmentsin the next few days.

Apart from Ms. Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, thecommittee includes loyalists considered close to Ms. Banerjee.Seven senior leaders of the party including Abhishek Banerjee were present at Ms. Banerjee’s Kalighat residence at the meeting. The leaders authorized the party chairpersonto take decision in the best interest of the party. During the meeting Ms. Banerjee spoke and came out with the list of working committee members.

About half a dozen Ministers of the State government including Partha Chatterjee and Firhad Hakim have been included in the working committee along with leaders like Amit Mitra, Subrata Bakshi and Sukendu Sekhar Roy.Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and former Congress leader Rajesh Tripathi, who recently joined TMC, are also members of the working committee. Birbhum district president like Anubrata Mondal and Dhanekhali MLA Asima Patra who do not have much to add to the nationalambitions of the party but are staunch loyalists of the Chief Minister also find a place in the committee.

However, leaders like Sushmita Dev and Luizinho Faleiro who were inducted in the party recently and given Rajya Sabha berths, do not find a place.

In another development Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturdayproroguedthe West Bengal Legislative Assemblywith effect from February 12, 2022, a move that may have been aimed to suspendthe proceedings of the State Assembly tillthe State’s ruling party sets its house in order. The Budget Session of the House is usually held in February.“There is only one position as on date, that is of Chairperson Mamata Banerjee,” senior Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee said as he read out the list of 20 members of the working committee. Mr. Chatterjee also added that the party chairperson has been authorised to nominate office bearers of the party in due course.

Ms. Banerjee was elected chairperson unanimously and unopposed at organisational elections of the party held on February 2.

Saturday’s development assumes significance as differences between the old guard of the party and newer leaders, led by Abhishek Banerjee, were increasingly become obvious and visible, specially on social media.Sources in the party said Mr. Banerjee had even expressed his desire to step down as national general secretary.“The Working committeehas been set up, no other issues have been discussed,” Mr. Hakim told journalists after the meeting.

There have been murmurs of a rift over past few days and TMC leaders blamed the election strategy firm I-PAC for the differences. However, the situation seemed to go out of control on Friday when leaders close to Mr. Abhishek Banerjee and a few members ofthe TMC’s first family openly called for a “One person, one post” system in the party on social media. Though the party chairperson had announced the idea of ‘one person one post’ the party could notimplement it in totality.

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