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22 Jun 2018

Mamata warning to Trinamul colts

Mamata at the meeting in Calcutta on Thursday. Picture by Gautam Bose
TT, Calcutta: Mamata Banerjee on Thursday asked Trinamul's youth wing to obey the parent party and warned that attempts at belittling the party would be dealt with firmly.

The youth wing is helmed by her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who was not present. Mamata said he was away for his fourth surgery since his October 2016 road accident that has "virtually blinded" him in one eye.

Sources in the party said the trigger behind her public message was Trinamul's less-than-expected performance in the panchayat polls in some areas where sections of the youth wing is alleged to have worked against the parent party.

"The youth wing is but a wing of Trinamul. A wing must know its place.... Nobody is bigger than the party," said the Bengal chief minister at Trinamul's extended core committee meeting at Netaji Indoor Stadium, attended by around 10,000 elected representatives from various levels.

Although it was to be a closed-door meeting, she allowed the media into the venue during her address.

"I have come up through the ranks, don't try to make me understand where a youth wing stands.... I will not tolerate the youth wing's disobedience," she added, amid thunderous applause from sections of the audience.

This was the first instance in recent memory where Mamata had issued a blanket warning to the youth wing.

Sources in her party attributed the message to months of "displeasure" with reports of the youth wing's alleged highhandedness and excesses. They claimed that the friction between the parent party and the youth wing had intensified over candidate selection for last month's panchayat polls.

A senior Trinamul leader said Mamata had issued a "timely" message against the "increasing differences" between the youth wing and the parent party, which would eventually have ended up helping the Opposition.

However, another leader said it could have just been posturing as Abhishek, who runs the youth wing with an iron fist, is the de-facto Number Two in Trinamul and her political heir.

"With her message, she was probably trying to assuage the concerns of some senior leaders in the parent party and rein in overt conflicts between the two camps ahead of the Lok Sabha polls," said a source.

Mamata also issued several stern messages at the meeting, instructing frontal organisations to pull up their socks and also contribute financially - 75 per cent of subscriptions - to the party.

She asserted that multiple unions of the labour wing could not coexist. She asked why veteran labour leaders such as Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and Subrata Mukherjee were holding multiple posts. Mamata added that INTTUC chief Dola Sen should be allowed to lead and labour minister Malay Ghatak could guide her.

Reviewing the results of the panchayat polls, she admitted to less-than-satisfactory performances in some parts of the state and admonished several leaders, from Jhargram, Purulia, West Midnapore, Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas, Nadia and Cooch Behar.

Mamata said she would undertake extensive organisational overhauls. "I have identified the places and the people. I will take timely action. You have seen that I do not even spare ministers," she said.

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