Rural polls: With key leader in jail, Mamata to take charge of TMC in Birbhum
Mamata Banerjee, who is on a three-day tour of Birbhum and neighbouring areas to review administrative work, held a closed-door meeting with TMC leaders of the district
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will take charge of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) affairs in West Bengal’s Birbhum ahead of the panchayat polls as the party’s key leader in the district Anubrata Mondal is behind bars for his alleged involvement in a cattle smuggling scam, people aware of the matter said.
Banerjee, who is on a three-day tour of Birbhum and neighbouring areas to review administrative work, held a closed-door meeting with TMC leaders of the district. “ ...[she sought] an update on the party’s organisational preparedness from all the block presidents,” said a TMC leader present at the meeting, seeking anonymity.
The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Mondol in August 2022 for his alleged involvement in the scam.
Mondal was the only district-level leader to have made it to the party’s National Working Committee without ever contesting an election.
A second TMC leader said a section of local leaders was trying to wrest greater control in parts of the district in Mondal’s absence. The party’s leadership intervened and set up a four-member committee to look into the party’s affairs in the district.
Banerjee on Monday expanded the committee and inducted three more leaders including Birbhum and Bolpur members of Parliament Satabdi Roy and Asit Mal.
“Banerjee said she would personally look into the party’s affairs in the district and that senior leader and state minister Firhad Hakim would assist her,” said a third TMC leader, requesting anonymity.
The panchayat poll is expected in the next two to three months. It will be the last major electoral exercise in the state ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Birbhum has been a TMC stronghold. The TMC won both Lok Sabha seats in 2019 in the district. In 2021, it won 10 out of the 11 assembly seats there.
A fourth TMC leader said keeping the party intact in the district is crucial for Banerjee. “The elections are approaching...[the district] also has the Deucha-Pachami coal block, India’s largest.”