Trinamoool Congress chief whip in the Assembly, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, who was roughed up by some Calcutta University employees belonging to a rival group within the party, is learnt to have told his close associates that he will “fight back only to expose some leaders who defected to Trinamool from the CPM and Naxal outfits and are now harming party chief Mamata Banerjee silently”.
Followers of Chattopadhyay on Friday said they were fighting a “save dignity battle” against those who joined Trinamool from the CPM and Naxal outfits during post-Singur episode and are now trying to rule over the old leaders of the party and running “syndicate raj.”
In a dramatic twist to the controversy over Chattopadhyay’s outburst, Mamata called him over phone this afternoon. Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, who had met him on Thursday, also telephoned him and urged him not to take out the padyatra which his followers were planning to organise at Esplanade to protest against Tuesday’s incident. Industry minister Partha Chatterjee also spoke to him.
Chattopadhyay, who never thought twice to side with party chief during all her difficult days, said earlier that he was hurt because the party has not yet issued statement condemning the incident. “All I want is some words of condemnation from the highest authority of our party. But the party has not yet condemned the incident. If such incident continues to occur, old-timers of the party will face humiliation. If the party does not react to such an incident, then what will happen to the party’s old-timers whose relentless fight against the CPM ensured the fall of Left rule?” he asked.
The veteran Trinamool leader said that party leaders had telephoned him several times last couple of days and spoke against the incident. Asked about his future steps, Chattopadhyay said he would remain in the party till he gets back his honour.
By late Friday evening, PTI reported that Chattopadhyay has called off the padayatra. “I have cancelled the proposed padayatra after the Chief Minister talked to me over phone and on request by many in the leadership,” Chattopadhyay, who has been associated with the party since its inception in 1998, said.
“I told the chief minister that the incident is condemnable and the party should condemn it and take appropriate action,” he added.
A Trinamool leader close to Chattopadhyay said veteran party leaders are angry with the incident and they do not understand why the party’s top brass are hesitant in taking action against “those who are doing more harm than good to Trinamool to which they had defected from Naxal outfits”.
“We have reports that a leader who joined Trinamool after 2006 spent huge amount of money in a family occasion. Another leader who joined Trinamool during the Singur movement lives in a luxury flat in Rajarhat. From where they get money? Does not Didi know this?” he asked.
Chattopadhyay’s followers say when he was in charge of the party’s labour wings (INTTUC) not a single allegation against the outfit was levelled. “But now complaints are coming everyday and anti-party activities are hitting the headlines,” they added. “After Chattopadhyay was sidelined in the organisation, his rival groups have set up almost parallel organisations. Didi has spoken openly against those running syndicate raj at Rajarhat. But where is the action? they asked.
Chattopadhyay is not the first one in the party who has upped the ante against those who have sidelined the longtime Trinamool leaders within the party, Trinamool MP Saugata Roy had also spoken openly against them. “Those who have joined Trinamool after 2009 must not come to the frontline of the party,” Roy had said while addressing 2012 martyrs rally in Kolkata.