NATIONAL

Mamata facing a tough time

KOLKATA MARCH 29. The Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee, who faced humiliation when four party MLAs voted in favour of the Congress nominee in the March 27 Rajya Sabha election from West Bengal, received another blow today as Debi Pal, a former MP, returned to the Congress fold questioning, among other things, her style of functioning.

"I am unable to continue to suffer humiliation in the Trinamool. I am also unable to accept that party's policy at the national level which, I think, goes against the grain of secularism,'' Mr. Pal said while announcing his return to the Congress in the presence of the State party chief, Pranab Mukherjee, at the Congress headquarters here.

By all accounts, Ms. Banerjee is facing a hard time ever since the four MLAs cross-voted in favour of the Congress nominee, Arjun Sengupta. He lost the election, but not before signalling to Ms. Banerjee that the Congress was making efforts to wreck her party from within.

A witchhunt of sorts is on to identify the four MLAs. Faction leaders such as Subrata Mukherjee, Ashok Deb and Saugata Ray are being made targets of attacks. Some party functionaries are trying to convince Ms. Banerjee that many important persons who had left the Congress to join the Trinamool were apparently protecting the interests of the Congress rather than her party.

The Trinamool rank and file is confused as to how Ms. Banerjee will tackle the situation as she is without a Ministerial portfolio and is clearly failing to keep her flock together.

There is a possibility that a sizeable chunk of the Trinamool will break away, opting for survival in a party like the Congress which has started regaining popularity.

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