Trinamul Congress faced another blow after two old timers resigned from the party today. One of the two leaders expressed reservations over the nomination of an ‘outsider’ to contest the Assembly elections in the Siliguri constituency.
Former general secretary of the party, Jyotsna Agarwal, has sent her resignation to the party’s state president, Subrata Bakshi, and Darjeeling district (Plains) president Ranjan Sarkar.
The party in Siliguri suffered an unprecedented jolt days before the Assembly elections after two leaders have quit within a week on the same issue.
Nantu Paul, a former party leader, has said he would contest as an Independent candidate after he was denied the ticket for the Siliguri Assembly constituency. The popular leader with years of experience as a ward councilor, Paul has criticised the party’s decision to field Prof Om Prakash Mishra in the seat.
Agarwal had been associated with the party since its journey in 1998.
“Kolkata-based leaders never give respect to the aspirations of party workers in Siliguri. I did not demand nomination as a candidate, but I wanted a local candidate fielded here. In the last elections, Bhaichung Bhutia had contested from this seat and we could not win then. Later, we were blamed for the defeat. Why will the people of Siliguri be deprived repeatedly? It is not possible for us to put in tireless efforts again for a candidate who has been imposed on us. We only wanted respect in the party, not any portfolio or monetary gain,” she said.
Agarwal went on: “I had been with Mamata Banerjee when she was with the Congress. I had been associated with the Trinamul Congress since the day of its foundation. We took part in the anti-land acquisition movement at Singur. We loved the party and had no demand. My name had been declared as the candidate in 2011 and later it was removed, but I did not protest that and continued to work for the party without any expectations. Earlier, the BJP had approached us and made offers, but we refused. We are in pain to take such a decision.”
Political analysts said the developments might send across a wrong message among the people when the party had been preparing for the elections.
“The week-long developments in the Trinamul Congress camp reflect that discontentment has been brewing over the selection of the party candidate. It appears that the party’s damage-control initiatives have failed to yield results so far. If the defections continue, it will be a tricky situation for the ruling party,” said an analyst.
Meanwhile, another old timer and former general secretary, Dipak Shil, also quit the party with Agarwal.
Expressing his grievances, Shil said he did not get due respect in the party. Shil had also been in the party since the beginning.
“In the last five-six years, I have been ignored in the party. I did not get due respect. I wanted to work, but denied any opportunity. Despite being associated with the party for a long time, I had not been considered eligible to contest elections in my ward for the post of councillor,” he said.
Both the leaders said they had no plans to join any other political party.
Party insiders said a section of old party workers were not happy with the treatment they faced and the way the party functioned for a long time now.
District party president, Sarkar said some leaders have expressed their grievances, but he has requested the two to reconsider their decisions.