Churn in TMC? Rising Number of Leaders Speak Out Against Party

This list of TMC MLAs and leaders, who have recently spoken against the party and Prashant Kishor, keeps increasing.

5 min read
The increasing list of TMC leaders who spoke against the party.

Trinamool Congress MLA from Pandabeswar Jitendra Tiwari recently criticised his own party, making him the latest addition in an increasing list of TMC leaders to speak out against the party of late.

Tiwari wrote a letter to West Bengal’s Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, citing the lack of development work in his constituency. He said that the state government did not allow him to take Rs 2,000 crore from the central government for developmental work under the Smart City Mission Project.

Several other leaders have publicly expressed their displeasure on the party’s functioning. They feel that the top brass has sidelined senior leaders, and their grievances are not being heard.

TMC’s critics are citing this as a sign of turmoil within the party. One issue being raised by many of the “dissenters” is the role of political strategist Prashant Kishor, who has been instrumental in several changes since he’s joined. These changes may not have gone down well with some senior leaders. They complain that an “outsider” is taking major calls in the TMC, "destroying the fabric of the party”.

Displeasure Towards Prashant Kishor

One of the first leaders to speak against Kishor was ex-TMC MLA from Cooch Behar Mihir Goswami, who later switched sides to the BJP. He was with the party since its inception in 1998. He claims that he wanted to bring development in North Bengal and alleged that the area had remained neglected.

Former TMC MLA from Cooch Behar Mihir Goswami, who had expressed his desire to quit the party, on Friday 27 November, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Former TMC MLA from Cooch Behar Mihir Goswami, who had expressed his desire to quit the party, on Friday 27 November, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
(Photo sourced by The Quint)
“This is no longer the party of my didi. She is inactive and that is why her people are no longer required here. To stay in the party you have to be a ‘yes man’ or leave. A party cannot be run by outsourcing it to a corporate house.”
Mihir Goswami, BJP Leader

Cooch Behar's Sitai MLA Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia backed Goswami on this.

Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari.
Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari.
(Photo: IANS)

The second big name on the list is ex-Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikary, who is feeling sidelined in the party, especially after Kishor came into the scene. Adhikary had been instrumental in the Nandigram anti-land acquisition protests (which ultimately led to the downfall of the Left government in 2011) and making significant inroads for the party in the Jangalmahal area, Malda and Murshidabad. He is said to have made his displeasure towards Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee and Kishor known.

This statement of his was seen as a veiled dig at the duo:

“I have neither arrived here by parachute nor come up by an elevator. I have reached here by climbing the stairs, step by step by step.”
Suvendu Adhikary, TMC MLA

Adhikary had been conducting independent rallies without the TMC banner since May before resigning from all his posts in November. He has also stopped attending all cabinet meetings. Despite no formal announcement, rumours are afloat that he is likely to join the BJP soon.

Despite a meeting with TMC stalwart Saugata Roy, Sudip Bandhopadhyay, Abhishek Banerjee and Prashant Kishor, Adhikary in a WhatsApp conversation with Roy, said that his “issues were not resolved and conclusions were being drawn regardless” which will make it “difficult for us to work together”.

Others on the list include TMC MLA from Barrackpore, Silbhadra Dutta, who said that the TMC leadership should have done more to redress his grievances. He expressed his desire to not fight the polls and talks with him failed.

“It is not possible for me to take directions from a private agency (I-PAC) on how politics or organizational work should be done.”
Silbhadra Dutta, TMC MLA
Silbhadra Dutta, TMC MLA
Silbhadra Dutta, TMC MLA
He met BJP leader Mukul Roy a day before national President JP Nadda visited the state.

Singur MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya who, too, played a vital role in the anti-land acquisition movement and Arambagh MLA Krishnachandra Santra openly criticised Kishor and the direction in which the TMC leadership is heading.

Bhattacharya criticized the TMC over development work in Singur and the choosing of the block president.

“Only 2-3 people are running the party. There is a conspiracy to weaken the organisation.”
Rabindranath Bhattarcharya, TMC MLA

Santra alleged that the core committee in his constituency failed to give importance to his grievances.

TMC leader Hazi Niamot Sheikh, who has built a stronghold in Murshidabad, called Prashant Kishor “the cause of all trouble”. 

Anger Over Top Brass Being Sidelined

State Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee and Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pande, too, hit out at the functioning of the party. They alleged that the anger and displeasure of senior leaders were not being addressed by the top brass.

West Bengal Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee. (File Photo: IANS)
West Bengal Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee. (File Photo: IANS)
Banerjee said that loyal party workers are being “overlooked” and that the “corrupt” are making it to the frontlines. 
“Those who are doing well those with ability…they are sidelined in the TMC. The score of those who applaud the team is higher. My score is low, because I can’t.”
Rajib Banerjee, State Forest Minister

Soon after the rally, posters of him without the party motif were seen across Kolkata.

The former deputy mayor of Kolkata and veteran leader, Atin Ghosh, too, felt that the "old guard" was being sidelined.

“Those who attacked the party at some point are now in the frontlines of the party, while those who have been working for the party for so long are not being given importance.”
Atin Ghosh, Former Deputy Mayor, Kolkata

Development Work (Or the Lack Thereof)

The latest on this increasing list is Pandabeswar MLA Jitendra Tiwari, whose grouse is that the state government allegedly did not allow him to take funds from the central government under the Smart City Mission Project. Here’s what he wrote in his letter to the urban development minister:

“I was instead promised that funds will be made available by the state government for overall development of this city, but it was not done. Similarly, under the Solid Waste Management Project, Asansol City could have received another Rs 1,500 crore fund by the central government like several other cities in the country, but you and your department have not allowed us to get the benefits of these central government funds due to which I feel that injustice has been done to the city.”
Jitendra Tiwari, TMC MLA

Tiwari has also resigned from two posts he held in government bodies.

Explanation from the Abhishek and Kishor Camp

However, those close to Kishor and Abhishek Banerjee say that they are streamlining processes in the party and this may affect those who had been acting as parallel power centres in certain areas. They say that it was essential to set up these processes for more efficient governance and political communication.

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