Growing infighting in Trinamool indicates lack of leadership control: Experts

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With various controversies like West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) scam or Bogtui massacre bedevilling the Mamata Banerjee government, more so after involvement of party leaders comes to light, the infighting within the party is becoming more acute and becoming public too.

The infighting is not now just restricted among the lower layer of party leaders but also in the higher level, as top leaders have started directing salvos against each other over the share of responsibilities for such irregularities.

How will this infighting impact Trinamool in the coming days, was a question IANS posed to a number of political analysts and observers. Almost all of them agreed that control of the top party leadership, including the party supremo and Chief Minister Banerjee, iover actions and statements of the party structure at all levels is slowly eroding.

From the recent sequence of events, it is clear that infighting in the Trinamool has reached an alarming stage. It seems clear that the gruesome carnage at Bogtui village in Birbhum district that left nine persons dead on March 21, 2022 was a clear fallout of infighting since both the accused and victims were close associates of the ruling party.

Soon after that carnage, Trinamool Congress’s district President, Anubrata Mondal and local MLA, Asish Banerjee, entered into war of words over who provided patronage to Anarul Hossain, a prime accused arrested in this connection.

Again, during the last couple of days, there were ripples in the state’s political circles over the heated exchanges in the recent WBSSC recruitment irregularities scam involving state Commerce and Industries Minister and erstwhile Education Minister and party Secretary General, Partha Chatterjee, state General Secretary and party spokesman, Kunal Ghosh, and Transport Minister and Kolkata Mayor, Firhad Hakim.

Senior political commentator and analyst, Subhasish Moitra told IANS that quite some time, a cold war had been going on between two groups, the first constituted by old guards of the party, like Partha Chatterjee and Hakim, who are apparently two closest confidants of Mamata Banerjee. The second group is the relatively younger section, who are reportedly close to national General Secretary and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

The media is describing this as a cold war between the old and new generation of leadership. But when this cold war at the upper leadership level percolates to the lower levels, this infighting is often taking a violent shape, he added.

“Such developments are not good for the image of the party and is a clear indication of the loosening grip of the party’s top leadership on party structure,” Moitra said.

Political analyst and Calcutta University’s former Registrar, Raja Gopal Dhar Chakraborty said that the matter is simple.

“Call it a violent infighting at the lower level or a cold war, the root of everything is the share of money collected illegally at the lower level. A major percentage of the money collected illegally by the lower levels gets passed to the higher level. This happens in all political parties… there is a system of distribution through well-defined channels.

“But in Trinamool, there are several factions at all levels. So naturally the factional leaders receiving lesser share become frustrated about rival factions receiving higher share. That is where the infighting becomes blatant and public – in bloody form at lower levels as it happened in Bogtui and in the form of war of words concerning Kunal Ghosh, Partha Chatterjee and Hakim,” Dhar Chakraborty told IANS.

Senior political journalist and the writer of “The Buddha and the Borders”, Nirmalya Banerjee told IANS that what is happening now is nothing unnatural for a political outfit like the Trinamool.

“In my opinion, Trinamool is more an assembly of a number of influential persons than a real political party, where starting from party constitution to policies depends on the whims and wishes of one leader. So, a difference of opinion becoming blatant and public on a regular basis is quite natural. In the CPI-M too, there were severe differences of opinion on the policy issues among leaders. But those differences were issue-based and it became public only after several rounds of internal meetings.

“Secondly, Trinamool was formed because of the association of several disgruntled Congress leaders, whom Mamata Banerjee was able to bring under the party umbrella, using the anti-CPI-M sentiment. Remember infighting within Congress over leadership issue was equally blatant in West Bengal before the formation of the Trinamool. The same culture is continuing….,” Banerjee said.

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