Dinesh Trivedi sows dissent in Trinamool ranks (West Bengal Newsletter)

March 18th, 2012 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, March 18 (IANS) The continuing suspense drama over the Dinesh Trivedi episode has not been the best advertisement for West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress. But what could be more ominous for the Mamata Banerjee-led party is the way the railway minister is almost pushing the leadership to the wall.Initially, the Barrackpore MP, who has fallen out with the leadership after raising passenger fairs in his railway budget last week, said as a loyal soldier of the party he would quit the moment Banerjee asked for his resignation.

However, on Saturday after Trinamool parliamentary party chief whip Kalyan Banerjee asked him to make a graceful exit as per the party’s wish, Trivedi demanded a written communication from Mamata Banerjee. The reason he hinted at is “confusion”.

“On the floor of parliament it is being said no resignation has been demanded. And after that now I am being asked over phone to quit. So I should know the truth,” Trivedi told reporters in Delhi, stumping the party.

The railway minister has already got open support from singer-turned-Trinamool MP-turned dissident Kabir Suman, and more importantly, latent endorsement from some other disgruntled Trinamool MPs.

“I have appealed to Dineshda not to resign unless the prime minister asks him to. We need upright men like him. And every party should understand that the railway ministry is not a thing that can be fiddled around with,” said Suman, who is using the media to drum up public support for Trivedi.

But Suman, not known for his political astuteness, unintentionally spilt the beans on Trivedi’s gameplan. “He told me that the masses needed to be told everything. The issue needed to be taken to the public.”

Apart from the overt backing of Suman, Trivedi is believed to have the covert support from a Trinamool MP who was earlier an organisational pillar in the Congress and a one-time bĂȘte noire of Mamata Banerjee. The MP is reportedly unhappy over being made to play a marginal role in the Trinamool organisation.

A couple of other Trinamool MPs from a western district, who publicly swear by the party chief, have also been expressing their discontent for long in close circles. But the wily politicians they are, the duo do not want to risk their political career at this juncture by coming out into the open at a time when the Banerjee government is yet to complete even a year in office and still retains much of its popularity.

With the Trinamool having 19 Lok Sabha members, the magic figure for causing a split is seven as per the anti-defection law. At present, the dissidents neither have the numbers not the courage to take the final plunge, but they are hoping to strengthen their ranks as the days go by and Mamata Banerjee continues to make bloomers.

For instance, a Trinamool MP, also the union minister of state for tourism - Sultan Ahmed - initially praised Trivedi’s budget saying the passenger fare increase was inevitable. But only hours later, he did a u-turn after realising that matters were snowballing in the party after the leadership (read Mamata Banerjee) took a strong stand against the hike.

But the Dinesh saga apart also, things have not really been rosy in the Trinamool of late, with reports of infighting, factional politics and a scramble for the spoils of office hitting the headlines in the media regularly.

Things have deteriorated to such an extent in Birbhum district, that a Lok Sabha member had to publicly admonish workers.

“After Trinamool came to power, except Mamata Banerjee, everybody has changed. And this includes not only those who are newcomers, but also those of us who were in the party earlier. We are damaging the party more than the damage that is being inflicted by the CPI-M or some other party to Trinamool,” said Shatabdi Roy, the MP from Birbhum.

“Those encouraging factionalism are doing garbage politics. Their approach is wrong,” added the former starlet.

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