On the foundation day (1 January) of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), tensions between the established leadership and the emerging faction came to the forefront.
State president Subrata Bakshi, breaking his usual silence, expressed his views and faced criticism from the opposing side.
As the debate unfolded, other leaders aligned themselves either with TMC chief Mamata Banerjee or her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, the TMC general secretary.
The day concluded with Abhishek Banerjee visiting Mamata's residence, described by TMC sources as a New Year courtesy call, as reported by Indian Express.
Bakshi, during the ceremony commemorating the party's formation in 1998, initiated the discussion by stating, “Abhishek Banerjee is our all-India general secretary… Swabhabikbhabei, ei nirbachone jodi lorai koren, ta hole Mamata Banerjee ke saamne rekhei lorai korben, loraier maidan theke pichhiye jaben na (Naturally, if he fights in the coming election, Mamata Banerjee will be in the forefront and surely he will not back off from the battle field).”
Sudip Bandopadhyay, another senior TMC leader, echoed Bakshi's sentiments, asserting that the party owed its existence to Mamata.
However, Kunal Ghosh, a staunch supporter of Abhishek, accused some senior leaders of displaying "pseudo-loyalty" to Mamata and creating divisions within the party.
Ghosh defended Abhishek's leadership, criticising Bakshi for tarnishing his image with off-the-cuff remarks.
He stated, “I respect our state president, but I have reservations regarding his sentence construction. It is not acceptable. Abhishek Banerjee is very much at the forefront, what he is doing is for the good of the party. He (Bakshi) is tarnishing the image of Abhishek Banerjee, making these off-the-cuff remarks, which are not good for the party.”
The internal strife had earlier surfaced when Abhishek advocated for a maximum age limit in politics, a proposal not endorsed by Mamata.
The rift widened as Ghosh questioned the absence of Abhishek's picture next to Mamata's at a party event in November.
Amidst the internal discord, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim acknowledged instances of corruption within the party but emphasised that it didn't implicate everyone.
Hakim likened corruption to the school job recruitment scam, highlighting the gravity of such actions.
In her Foundation Day message, Mamata reaffirmed the party's commitment to serving the motherland, protecting the state's interests, and upholding democratic rights, calling on every party member to remain dedicated to these objectives.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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