West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a convention of party workers. (Press Trust of India)
Pushed to the wall by CBI in Saradha scam, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today took over the part affairs and asked its leaders to prepare a list of those in the opposition who have been associated with ponzi scheme companies.
Ms Banerjee also stood by state Transport and Sports Minister Madan Mitra, who is in jail in connection with the scam.
"Madan and Mukul (Mukul Roy, TMC general secretary) have done no wrong. As they are deeply involved in the party organisation, a dirty political conspiracy is being hatched to put them behind the bars in order to weaken the party," a leader quoted Ms Banerjee as saying in the closed door party meeting.
"From now on, Mamatadi herself will look after the organisation. She said that due to immense pressure of running the government, she couldn't look after the organisation, but from now on she will look after it. She will look into strengthening the party further," he said on condition of anonymity after emerging from the meeting.
Incidentally Mukul Roy, considered as one of the most important TMC leaders after Ms Banerjee, was absent in today's core committee meeting. Since the day the party came to power in 2011, he has been looking after the TMC organisation.
Mamata also defended other party members who have either been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate or are likely to be quizzed for Saradha links. She named party leaders Shanku Ponda, Dola Sen and Lok Sabha MP Arpita Ghosh. "They are being needlessly pilloried," she said.
Ms Banerjee said TMC will not yield "an inch of its political turf to opposition parties", specially BJP, who she accused of using central agencies to corner her party in Bengal.
"Our party supremo has asked us to prepare a list of opposition leaders involved in any chit fund company. The message is clear, those opposition leaders who are campaigning against us are themselves neck deep in corruption. We just need to pull off their masks," the TMC leader said.
Ms Banerjee, during the meeting, accused the Centre of trying to tarnish the party's reputation by using central agencies against it and asked TMC leaders to reach out to the masses and conduct movements against its anti-people policies.
Mamata Banerjee was also dismissive about speculation that a section of her party leaders may jump ship and join the BJP.
In the meeting, it was also decided that TMC will hold another core committee meeting on January 31 to discuss the party's strategy for the upcoming Kolkata civic polls and municipal polls in 81 municipalities of the state.
Mamata Banerjee has said she will take a more active role in the party organization. One of her first diktats was to curb interaction by party leaders with the media.
TMC will also conduct Panchayati Raj Sammelan on Feburary 11-12 and a labour conference on February 13, party sources said.