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TMC rift widens  amidst Modi visit to Bengal

The TMC chief spokesperson accused the Kolkata Uttar MP of being a BJP agent and a corrupt businessman, and demanded his removal from the party.

Piyush Gautam

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is facing a major crisis ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to West Bengal, as the party’s chief spokesperson Kunal Ghosh launched a scathing attack on the candidature of Sudip Bandyopadhyay, the MP from Kolkata Uttar and the leader of the TMC parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha.

In a press conference on Saturday, Ghosh accused Bandyopadhyay of being a “broker of saffron goons” and a “corrupt businessman” who takes bribes from big industrial families to travel abroad. He alleged that Bandyopadhyay was instrumental in tipping off the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to raid the TMC leaders, including Ghosh himself and Tapas Roy, a senior TMC legislator.

Ghosh said that he was expressing his demand through the media to the party supremo Mamata Banerjee that Bandyopadhyay should be expelled from the party and his candidature should be cancelled. He said that he would not accept Bandyopadhyay or his wife Nayna, who is an MLA from Chowringhee constituency, as candidates of the TMC in any seat. He said that as a worker of the party, he would go to their election campaign, but as a leader, he would oppose them.

Ghosh’s attack on Bandyopadhyay comes at a time when the TMC is facing a tough challenge from the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections. Bandyopadhyay, who has been a five-time MP from Kolkata Uttar and a former minister of state for health and family welfare, is considered to be one of the most influential and ambitious leaders of the TMC. He is also known for his cordial relations with the BJP leaders, which has often raised eyebrows in his own party.

Bandyopadhyay was once expelled from the TMC in 2004 for being an agent of the BJP, and he contested as an independent candidate in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. He lost to the TMC candidate Subrata Banerjee, but later rejoined the party in 2008. He has also faced charges of involvement in the Rose Valley chit fund scam, and was arrested by the CBI in 2017. He was released on bail in 2018.

Bandyopadhyay has not responded to Ghosh’s allegations yet, but his supporters have defended him and accused Ghosh of trying to create a rift in the party. They have also claimed that Bandyopadhyay has a strong support base among the Hindi-speaking voters in his constituency, who constitute a significant proportion of the electorate.

The TMC leadership has not commented on the issue so far, but it is expected that the party will try to resolve the matter internally and avoid any further escalation. The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit West Bengal on Sunday, and address a rally in Kolkata. The TMC is hoping to put up a united front and counter the BJP’s campaign..

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