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Rivalry between Mamata, Bandopadhaya bogs down Trinamool
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | April 29, 2003 13:42 IST
Internal turmoil seems to be latest buzzword in Trinamool Congress circles with the cold vibes between senior leader and Member of Parliament Sudip Bandopadhaya and party chief Mamata Banerjee increasing by the day.
Though Bandopadhaya denied any problem with Mamata Banerjee, he told rediff.com: "There are various issues and we thrash it out." Bandopadhyaya's statement, though diplomatic, fails to hide the considerable damage the spat between the two has caused the party.
Two years ago, when the Trinamool, at Banerjee's behest, had parted ways with the National Democratic Alliance over the BJP's 'communal agenda', the Trinamool had found itself in dire straits in West Bengal politics.
Despite her best efforts, Banerjee found that in sharp contrast to her party's initial spectacular performance in West Bengal, it had lagged when it came to electorate's expectations vis a vis the Left Front.
She realised that Trinamool's salvation lay in returning to the NDA. But some BJP leaders, including then party president Jana Krishnamurthy, were not open to the idea of having the firebrand leader back.
It was due to Bandopadhyaya's persuasion that the BJP leadership agreed to take the Trinamool back into the NDA. And that catapulted Bandopadhyaya.
But Banerjee was not happy. She felt that he was getting too close to the BJP leadership and could possibly challenge her leadership, which has often been described as autocratic by some of her party colleagues.
Mamata, during the last two years, has sought to undermine Bandopadhayaya's position, but without much success. He warned his party colleagues that if the Trinamool went out of the NDA again over the issue of the bifurcation of Eastern Railway, as the party chief was demanding, it would be sunk without any hopes of resurrection.
The other Trinamool MPs supported Bandopadhyaya on this move and she was forced to relent. Mamata, however, did not forget Bandopadhyaya's apparent leadership qualities and Trinamool sources said she has decided to teach him a lesson.
She has begun floating the name of party Lok Sabha MP Dr Nitish Sengupta as the Trinamool candidate if Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to effect a minor expansion of his council of ministers.
The sources pointed out that for good measure, Mamata has also encouraged other Trinamool MPs like Akbar Ali Khondekar and Krishna Bose to pitch in with their demand of getting a central ministerial berth, thereby making it difficult for Bandopadhyaya to become a central minister.
"If the Trinamool is still a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, it is because of Bandopadhyaya, and Banerjee is not happy with that," a Trinamool source told rediff.com.
More reports from West Bengal