Veteran TMC leaders take swipe at Abhishek Banerjee, differences surface in party

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Abhishek Banerjee speaks with the media as he leaves from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office after questioning in connection with alleged teachers recruitment scam, in Kolkata, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.

Abhishek Banerjee (File photo)

Kolkata: Amidst the celebration of the party's 27th foundation day on Monday internal differences within TMC surfaced as its senior leaders took a swipe at the party's national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, which drew sharp retort from its generation next leaders.


The controversy surfaced after West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee advised giving due respect to senior members of the party and refuted the assertion that old leaders should retire from active politics.

Following this, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is perceived as leading the youth brigade of Trinamool Congress, spoke out for a retirement age in politics citing the decline in work efficiency and productivity with advancing years.

It began with TMC state president Subrata Bakshi, a 73-year-old party old timer and known for his loyalty to Mamata Banerjee, openly expressing the hope that Abhishek, a parliamentarian from Diamond Harbour, will fight the Lok Sabha election due later this year.


"Abhishek Banerjee is our national general secretary. We are sure that he will not back away from contesting the coming Lok Sabha election. If he fights, he will fight under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and the party symbol," Bakshi, who was addressing party workers at the foundation day programme at the TMC headquarters here, said.

The remark prompted a sharp reaction from TMC's state general secretary Kunal Ghosh, who is close to Abhishek Banerjee. He demanded that Bakshi retract his words.

"I respect the state president, but I have objections to his use of words. It was not desirable. Abhishek is in the reckoning. If the party listens to what he (Abhishek) wants to say, it is good for it," Ghosh said.


Senior TMC leaders Firhad Hakim and Sudip Bandopadhyay, both close to Mamata Banerjee, added fuel to the debate.

Bandopadhyay, who has been the party for years, remarked "Once the party supremo demits office as Bengal chief minister, the state will go haywire."

Hakim, a minister and the city's mayor, emphasised that new leaders of the party should learn the history of TMC's struggle. 


"It took us years to win the trust of the people and politically reach the place where we are today." Reacting to Hakim's remarks, Ghosh questioned the role of senior leaders during Mamata Banerjee's fight and loss in Nandigram in the 2021 assembly poll. "The seniors are lecturing that youth leaders should know the history of the party. What were they doing when our leader Mamata Banerjee fought and lost in Nandigram?"

Mamata Banerjee had lost to her one-time protege Suvendu Adhikari, who is now in BJP and is the leader of opposition. She was later elected to the state Assembly from her home seat Bhabanipur in Kolkata.

Continuing his criticism of TMC's senior leaders, Ghosh questioned why negative connotations were being used against Abhishek. "Abhishek Banerjee is a leader and words with negative connotations are not only humiliating but also demoralizing for our party workers."


Ghosh, who is also the party spokesman, in December addressed rumors of a power struggle by asserting that there is no conflict between the old and new generation leaders of the party. He emphasised the necessity of both Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee in the party.

The controversy reflects a two-year-old internal struggle within Trinamool Congress between the old guard and its generation next.

Mamata Banerjee had dissolved all national office-bearer committees of TMC as well as the post of its national general secretary held by Abhishek Banerjee in January 2022 amidst rumors of an alleged power struggle. Subsequently a new committee was formed and Abhishek Banerjee was reinstated to his post.

Since then, Abhishek Banerjee has not only gained prominence within the party, but is now also considered the de facto number two in the state's ruling dispensation.