Trinamool Congress Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal is under public scrutiny once again following the BJP’s demand that he be investigated in connection with the killings in the district’s Bogtui village last week.
Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari on Saturday said at an event in Rampurhat that only “small fries” had been arrested so far in the arson case and demanded that Mondal’s calls be traced to find out his link to the incident. Among the 21 people arrested in connection in connection with the recovery of eight charred bodies in the village is TMC Rampurhat Block president Anarul Hussain. Most of those arrested are workers of the ruling party.
Anubrata’s rise and rise
The 61-year-old TMC strongman, who belongs to a family of farmers, is a trusted lieutenant of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and helped the party consolidate its position in Birbhum. Of the 11 Assembly seats in the district, the TMC controls 10 at the moment. In 2019, it won both the Lok Sabha constituencies there.
The TMC leader is infamous for making provocative speeches, often threatening the police with consequences if they did not follow his instructions. He has also been seen instructing the police to incriminate Opposition workers in false cases. During the 2013 state panchayat elections, Mondal was heard asking party workers to hurl bombs at the police and burn down the houses of Independent candidates. This was the beginning of his rise in Bengal politics.
Affectionately knowns as “Kesto”, Mondal is the last word when it comes to the TMC’s organisational activities in Birbhum. Despite his penchant for stirring controversies, Mamata Banerjee values his loyalty to her and has often publicly defended him. In 2014, during a controversy, Banerjee had sympathised with Mondal, claiming that he suffers from hypoxia for which he has to carry around oxygen cylinders all the time.
Mondal’s devotion to the TMC chairperson was rewarded last month as he was given a place in the party’s national working committee.
Post-poll violence case
Mondal has never contested any election despite being in politics for over three decades. He prefers to manage the party from behind the scenes and prepares strategies for its expansion. During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and 2016 and 2021 Assembly elections, the Election Commission kept him under strict surveillance following complaints that he might influence voters.
The TMC leader also made the news during last year’s post-poll violence in West Bengal. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) summoned him as a witness at the NIT camp office in Durgapur in Paschim Bardhaman district in connection with a murder in Birbhum’s Alambazar area. In response, Mondal moved the Calcutta High Court, seeking protection from arrest by the CBI. In February, the court granted him protection from coercive measures by the central agency.