A young man posing as a journalist pounced on Abhisek Banerjee, Trinamool Congress MP and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and slapped him at a party function at Chandipur in East Midnapore district on Sunday.
Although the man’s politicial affiliation was not immediately clear, the opposition was quick to call it a manifestation of the party’s fierce internal feud while party spokesman and MP Derek O’Brien told reporters it was possibly an act of an outsider.
Abhisek, who is considered to be the heir apparent in the TMC, is the president of the party’s youth wing.
Eyewitnesses at the function, organised by the Trinamool Yuba Congress, said barely had Abhisek started his speech, the man, identified as Debashish Acharya, an engineering student from College More in Chandipur, climbed on to the stage where several district Trinamool leaders were seated. On the pretext of taking pictures with his cellphone, he got close to Abhisek and suddenly lunged at him and slapped him.
Party supporters and leaders then beat up the man, who was later admitted to Tamluk hospital. Abhisek stopped his speech, cancelled the programme and returned to Kolkata.
TMC workers, who misbehaved with mediapersons at the venue, later went to the Chandipur police station and ransacked it. “They vandalised the police station. However, things are under control now,” an officer of the Chandipur police station said.
While the Trinamool called it as a conspiracy to browbeat the party as well as the CM’s nephew, who is fast rising as a leader, the opposition called it a manifestation of an internal party feud, particularly between MPs Sisir Adhikary and Subhendu Adhikary and the party top brass, including Mamata. Incidentally, about two months ago, Abhisek had replaced Subhendu as chief of the Trinamool Yuba Congress.
Shubhendu said the allegations were baseless. “I have not been bitten by a mad dog that I will engineer an attack on Abhisek in my own backyard. I was in Kolkata and now I am going back to my place. I condemn this incident,” he said.
Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the culprit would be given severe punishment. Party spokesman Derek O’Brien initially said an outsider may have been involved. However, in a statement later, he just said, “The unfortunate incident at a public meeting in Chandipur may have been a plan to attack our MP Abhisek Banerjee and threaten his life. Now, it is up to the administration to inquire into the matter and the law to take its course.”
However, the opposition alleged that it was the result of the feud in the party. Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, president of the state Congress, said, “Fierce infighting has started in the party,” he said. Left Front chairman Biman Bose too said it was a manifestation of the party’s internal feud.