The disciplinary action against two senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, who shared a stage with rival Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Bengal unit president at a social event, has triggered dissent within and also invited sarcasm from the BJP on Saturday.
TMC MLA from Egra in East Midnapore district, Samaresh Das, the party's community block president, Siddeshwar Bera, along with the Midnapore MP and BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, were invitees at the Friday inauguration of the annual fair at Egra. The three shared the dais and addressed the gathering. Hours later, TMC removed Bera from his post and sent a show-cause notice to Das, a party veteran.
On Saturday, state BJP leaders took potshots at TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by asking if she would also take disciplinary action against herself when she shares the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kolkata on January 11.
Modi is scheduled to attend the 150th-anniversary celebration of the Calcutta Port Trust on January 11. The chief minister is among the invitees. Modi is scheduled to arrive in the city on January 10 and spend the night at Raj Bhawan.
"Will she take action against herself after sharing the dais with the Prime Minister? Inauguration of the fair was a social event and the organisers invited people's representatives from the area. It was not a political event. Banerjee has lost her mind. She is scared of the 2011 assembly polls," said BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu.
The disciplinary action did not go down well with the TMC leader either.
"Such action cannot be taken autocratically. There should have been a discussion. People will reply if action is taken against me. I have not received the show cause letter yet. I will give my reply. This may affect the elections," said Samaresh Das.
He said the party MP from Kanthi (also in East Midnapore district), Sisir Adhikari, had attended the fair many times alongside opposition leaders.
Adhikari chose to distance himself from the developments.
"I have removed Bera following instructions from the top leadership. The decision was not taken at the district level. I have nothing to do with the notice sent to the MLA," said Adhikari.
The incident has triggered speculations that the two TMC leaders may join the BJP. Incidentally, TMC's influence in the region is on the wane. Dilip Ghosh was ahead of the ruling party candidate by about 15,000 votes in the Egra assembly segment of the Midnapore Lok Sabha constituency. This is said to have peeved the chief minister.