KOLKATA: For the first time, a ruling Trinamool Congress MLA was arrested on Monday following directions from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for indulging in a factional clash at a college. Dipak Halder, TMC MLA from Diamond Harbour in neighbouring South 24 Parganas district, had allegedly led a group of youth who damaged properties in Fakirchand College and beat up students.
Two groups of TMC workers clashed in the campus and Haldar was reportedly seen arguing and scuffling with the police. State Higher Education Minister and TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee reported the incident to Banerjee, who has been away in Darjeeling district. Following the Chief Minister’s direction, Chatterjee asked the district SP to arrest the errant party MLA. Haldar, however, alleged that some local TMC leaders in connivance with the police were indulging in extortion in the area. He has questioned the integrity of the home department, which is headed by Banerjee. After his arrest, Haldar’s followers squatted on the road to prevent the cops from taking him to police station, leading to a lathi-charge in which some youth were injured. His followers gheraoed the Diamond Harbour police station, shouting slogans demanding the MLA’s immediate release.
Haldar, while inside a police vehicle, said, “I will abide by the order of my supreme leader Mamata Banerjee. It is a political conspiracy against me.” This is the first time any TMC MLA had been arrested due to factional feud that has been plaguing the ruling party. The issue has become matter of concern for Mamata as state Assembly polls are scheduled next year.
Clashes between TMC factions in colleges in the state and assault on teachers have become common, with Banerjee asking members of the party’s students’ wing to respect teachers. SFI president and CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member Ritobrata Banerjee said, “This is the order of the day in Bengal and like the mafia, the TMC workers are resorting to violence. They are clashing with their own men in various colleges over extortion of money from students.”