KOLKATA:As a pre-emptive measure to quell rebellion within the ruling TMC in West Bengal Chief Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee on Saturday clipped the wings of national secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy by revamping the entire party organisation.
Party insiders said Mamata expressed her disappointment at Mukul’s absence at the meeting of all TMC district presidents and senior leaders convened at her residence in Kalighat.
“He used to handle important party work and I was dependent on him. His absence is not correct. From now on, I will oversee everything even at the national-level,” Mamata said. Mukul was the TMC’s link between national-level politics and the grassroots. Mukul, however, said, “I did not go for the meeting as I am busy with other important party work and the leadership knows about it. Power needs to be earned and can never be bestowed.”
Trinamool Congress state general secretary and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said, “Major restructuring has been made by our leader at the national level. State president and MP Subrata Bakshi, in addition to Mukul, has been appointed all India general secretary and MP Dinesh Trivedi has been elevated to the post of party national vice-president.”
When asked about Mukul’s absence in such an important meeting, he quipped, “Mukul was busy with political activities of the party and so was absent with prior permission.”
Bakshi, who was elected from Mamata’s former Lok Sabha seat -- Kolkata South -- is considered close to the party chief whip. The appointment of Trivedi, who was all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month and critical of the TMC Government’s “ego problems depriving the state of development”, is an attempt to pacify him.
Another rebel TMC Lok Sabha MP Subhendu Adhikari, who was replaced as the party’s youth wing president by newcomer Soumitra Khan, was appointed in-charge of Assam. He had met Mukul, after the Rajya Sabha MP was questioned by the CBI in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
Senior state Minister Subrata Mukherjee, who was Mamata’s mentor, was asked to look after CPM-ruled Tripura “appreciating his organisational abilities”, as he too had shot from the hip against some steps taken by the state government recently.
The largest beneficiary of the reorganising effort was national spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, who was made in-charge of North-East states and Kerala, where the TMC has a presence.
O’Brien along with Lok Sabha MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Kalyan Banerjee and state Minister for Urban Development Firhad Hakim, another staunch ‘Didi acolyte’ were inducted into the national executive which maintains links with other political parties all over the country.
The restructuring reduces Mukul’s powers within the party and creates a distance between him and other rebels, who have been voicing dissent about corruption, nepotism, sycophancy and misuse of power by TMC ministers, legislators and some of the MPs.
By entrusting her loyalists with more power Mamata has sent a signal to MLAs and MPs, some of whom are in touch with the BJP, that it was she who called the shots and not Mukul.