Mamata Banerjee has clipped the wings of her nephew Abhishek, who of late has turned larger than life going by images of his that have come up across Kolkata’s public spaces. Such placards, festoons and cutouts have appeared over the last couple of weeks.
Mamata Wednesday night got her party’s student wing to issue a set of rules that reiterate an existing ban on any party poster other than Mamata’s, which will remain in force until the elections, besides making it mandatory for any wing or unit to take the party’s permission before holding any public meeting or procession.
Abhishek heads the party’s youth wing, Trinamool Yuva, which will need to take the permission of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad president.
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The grooming of Abhishek has already made Mamata the object of ridicule from the Congress and the BJP, which have accused her of parivartantra, or family rule. She has hit back at the Congress saying she does not support rajtantra, or dynastic rule. The public censure of Abhishek is being seen as an effort to send across that message.
Party insiders say some leaders had tried to impress Mamata by promoting Abhishek. At some places where he addressed public meetings, they would describe him as the yuvaraj, or crown prince, of TMC Yuva. Sometimes, he would even appear in headgear resembling a crown. Besides, some other leaders too were appearing on posters, alongside Mamata.
“These moves to promote Abhishek proved counterproductive. They didn’t help Abhishek, but allowed other leaders to highlight themselves,” said a party leader. “In our party, no one has a political identity except Didi.”
The crackdown came after Mamata directed top leaders, including Mukul Roy, to call a meeting of the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad state committee and issue guidelines on what is allowed and what isn’t. At the meeting, leaders pointed out that not just Abhishek but a number of party leaders were appearing in posters with Mamata, which violated a party instruction issued about three months ago.
The meeting included Trinamool Chhatra Parishad president Shankudeb Ponda, Trinamool state president Subrata Bakshi and party secretary general Partha Chatterjee. When contacted, Chatterjee said certain guidelines have been issued on party meetings and use of posters. The template, according to party insiders, holds for all committees, branch committees and the mother organisation itself. Mamata will announce the guidelines at a special session of youth wings in Durgapur on February 15.