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19 Jan 2017

Deb forms core committee for TMC unity

AVIJIT SINHA and BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, Jan. 18: Darjeeling district Trinamul president Gautam Deb today announced a 13-member core committee by including most of second-rung leaders who were accused of "inaction" during the Assembly polls last year.
He also announced a 55-member district committee that would be "advised" by the core committee.
Deb's move comes around eight months after Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee dissolved the district committee and seven months after he was reinstated as the district president.
None of the 13 members of the core committee is on the district committee.
Observers said Deb, who is also tourism minister, had adopted a middle path by forming the core committee.
"It is significant that none of the 13 members of the core committee have found a place in the district committee. The district president has made a calculated move and accommodated these leaders without inviting the wrath of the state Trinamul leadership," said a Trinamul leader who was included in the new district committee.
"After Bhaichung Bhutia had lost to Asok Bhattacharya in Siliguri in the Assembly polls, he complained to Mamata in writing that some second-rung leaders were inactive during the campaign. If Deb had included them in the district committee, it wouldn't have gone down well with the state leadership. On the other hand, it is not possible for the minister to shun them altogether," added the leader.
Deb had approached the state leaders at least twice in the past few months with a list of names to be included in the district committee. But the list was not endorsed.
So, the Trinamul leader said, Deb formed a core committee by including the second-rung leaders. "Its not that all members of the core committee are in the bad books of the state leaders. Deb has brought in other leaders also to the core committee."
Some Trinamul leaders The Telegraph has spoken to said Cooch Behar is the only other district where the party formed a core committee.
Asked if the core committee or the district committee was superior, Deb evaded a direct reply.
"We have formed a 13-member core committee comprising senior leaders. The committee will work on policies of the party and advise the district committee. Added to it, we have formed a 55-member district committee, comprising 25 portfolio holders and 30 members. Both the committees have been formed with the approval of the state leadership," said Deb.
Among those who have been included in the core committee are Ranjan Sarkar, Nantu Paul, Krishna Pal, Ranjan Silsharma, Rudranath Bhattacharya, Bhaichung Bhutia, Pratul Chakraborty, Jayanta Kar, Jayanta Moulik and Soumitra Kundu.
The district committee headed by Deb has 10 vice-presidents, five general secretaries and nine secretaries.
Sources in Trinamul said the party was presenting a "united" picture by accommodating different factions ahead of elections to the GTA and four hill municipalities.
"Unlike the Assembly polls, when the district Trinamul was rocked by infighting, the party wants to show that its united ahead of elections in the hills. It is unlikely that the district president's decision would leave any leader aggrieved as leaders of different lobbies have been accommodated in some way or the other. Secondly, it would create a situation for them to work together ahead of the hill polls. There are party leaders in the hills but it is obvious that leaders from the plains will be engaged in the campaign," said a party source.
For Trinamul, the polls in the hills are important.
"So far, there are no indications that we will get any of the six MLAs (who are from Darjeeling district) on board. Also, out party is far from reaching the magic figures at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad. So, the party wants to prove its mettle in the hills," said the Trinamul source.
Darjeeling is the only district in north Bengal where Trinamul does not have a single MLA. Although Trinamul had drawn blank in Malda district in the Assembly polls, Englishbazar MLA Nihar Ghosh joined the ruling party later.

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