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Mamata rejigs party, brings young faces to the fore ahead of 2021

Chhatradhar Mahato, a former Maoist sympathiser currently out on bail, has been included in the party’s State Steering Committee along with two more tribal leaders — Churamani Mahato and Sukumar Hansda.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata | July 24, 2020 10:11:41 am
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With less than a year to go for the Assembly elections in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress on Thursday witnessed a major overhaul as party chief Mamata Banerjee assigned bigger responsibilities to young leaders, and at the same time balancing them with the party’s old guard.

The reshuffle comes two days after the Martyrs’ Day rally in which Chief Minister Banerjee had emphasised the need to put young leaders at the helm of the party. Banerjee also made structural changes in party’s organisation by doing away with district observer’s post, and introducing the new post of district chairman. Every district unit of the TMC will now have more than one coordinator who will assist their respective district presidents in organisational work, a senior party leader said.

Chhatradhar Mahato, a former Maoist sympathiser currently out on bail, has been included in the party’s State Steering Committee along with two more tribal leaders — Churamani Mahato and Sukumar Hansda. Lok Sabha member from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra has been made district president of Nadia, while former cricketer and state Sports Minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla Howrah city unit president. For Howrah rural, another young face, Pulak Roy, has been made the president.

Keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which the TMC lost a substantial number of seats to the BJP, Banerjee introduced several changes in the district leadership. Additional importance was given to leaders from the Scheduled Tribe and backward sections of the society. In north Bengal, young leaders like Partha Pratim Roy, Mridul Goswami, Ranjan Sarkar have been made district presidents of Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Darjeeling (plain), respectively.

In South Dinajpur, incumbent district unit president Arpita Ghosh has been replaced with Goutam Das. In Purulia, Gurupada Tudu has been made the new district unit president, replacing Shantiram Mahato who was been given the role of the new district chairman.

“Our party lost many Lok Sabha seats in north Bengal in 2019. So, the party wanted to change the leadership faces there to secure better results in the upcoming Assembly elections,” a senior TMC leader said.

Banerjee also constituted a 21-member State Steering Committee that will be at the helm of campaigning and policy making in the districts. Out of the 21 members, the party chief further selected seven leaders to form a Core Committee that will take care of strategy and other policies for the upcoming polls. The Core Committee comprises Abhishek Banerjee, Firhad Hakim, Suvendu Adhikari, Kalyan Banerjee, Subrata Bakshi, Partha Chatterjee and Shanta Chhetri.

Bakshi will be the convener of the committee, while Abhishek Banerjee will continue as the Trinamool Youth Wing president.

Banerjee also made changes in the party’s youth wing too. Incumbent South Kolkata district president Swarup Biswas, who is the younger brother of Arup Biswas, has been removed. According to TMC sources, Banerjee had received several complaints against him.

New members were also introduced to the party’s State Committee, which is headed by Subrata Bakshi with Partha Chatterjee as its secretary general.

“Today, the CM reiterated that we will have to fight against the BJP in the next election. BJP will be our main opposition. Recently, our party became unpopular in some districts because of allegations of rampant corruption and arrogance of some leaders. So these structural and change in guard will help the party to take a fresh stance and face the Opposition. All leaders have been selected following numerous surveys conducted by our party. The party gave priority to the common people’s impression of the existing leadership,” the party leader, on the condition of anonymity, said.

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