Infighting and the BJP's rising graph in West Bengal seem to be taking a toll on the ruling Trinamool Congress, with the party deciding to crack the whip against internal strife and revamp the organisation ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls.
Infighting and the BJP’s rising graph in West Bengal seem to be taking a toll on the ruling Trinamool Congress, with the party deciding to crack the whip against internal strife and revamp the organisation ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls. According to senior TMC leaders who do not wish to be named, the recent spate of reshuffle in the state cabinet and some local bodies is a hint that the party is planning to overhaul the organisation at various levels. The BJP is trying to expand its footprint in West Bengal, which has 42 Lok Sabha seats. The party, at present, has just two seats in the state.
The recent bypolls and the panchayat election results have indicated a paradigm shift in the state politics with the saffron party emerging as the main opposition to the TMC, although it has a long way to go before it can put up a close fight to the ruling party. Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has floated the idea of a federal front of regional parties, is also making her presence felt at the national level as a prominent challenger to the BJP. According to TMC insiders, the party has a two-pronged strategy, under which ministers who are “overburdened” with various portfolios will have to do away with some responsibilities.
Leaders who are holding dual folios of district president and state minister will have to choose between them, although there will be exceptions for certain leaders who have a good track record. “The performance in some of the districts, especially Junglemahal, is not so good. Although we have won the maximum number of zilla parishad seats, we have also lost the ones we shouldn’t have,” said a senior TMC leader. Much to the dismay of TMC leadership, in districts like Malda, Purulia, Jhargram, Nadia, Alipurduar, the BJP has made steady inroads, said a senior TMC leader, adding that local TMC leadership was “not well informed” about the ground situation. Once hit by Maoist insurgency, the three districts of Junglemahal- West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura have been the beacon of Banerjee’s developmental policies in the state. “We are assessing the results. But we are not bothered with media projections. The people of West Bengal support the developmental policies of Mamata Banerjee,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.
Just within two weeks of the election results, three Cabinet ministers were asked to resign from their posts and concentrate on party’s organisational work. Backward Class Welfare Minister Churamani Mahato, Tribal Development Minister James Kujur and Abani Joardar, who did not have a portfolio, had to abide by the party’s orders. “All the three ministers have been asked to concentrate on the party’s organisational works,” Banerjee had said. The portfolios of four other ministers were reshuffled, including of state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, who had to give away the additional charge of Public Health Engineering Department. “Although Abani Joardar was ill for the last few months, Churamani Mahato lost his job for the party’s performance in Junglemahal, especially in Gopiballavpur area, and James Kujur because of party’s performance in Alipurduar district,” said another TMC leader.
According to party sources, youth leaders will be given preferences at various levels of district leadership ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls. The leaders of Trinamool Youth Congress will be entrusted with tasks, depending on their ability to perform. Those who are tech-savvy will be utilised by the party to counter the “false” social media campaigns, allegedly floated by the BJP, to create a rift among communities, the sources said. “The BJP is trying to use religion as a tool to enter into our state. But the TMC will never allow divisive forces to succeed, all attempts will be scuttled at any cost,” Chatterjee said. The party is also contemplating the idea of reshuffle in various districts by removing the leaders who are adversely impacting the image of the party, according to party sources.
“We will not tolerate infighting in the party, we had enough of it. If anybody is found to be involved in infighting strict action will be taken against him or her. There can be grievances in the party but that doesn’t mean you will sabotage the prospects of the party,” said a senior TMC leader privy to the development. The latest causalities of infighting in TMC are the chairman and the vice chairman of North Dum Dum Municipality, who have been removed after supporters of both the leaders clashed inside the municipal office last month.