The next core committee meeting of Trinamool Congress will be held on October 22.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today told leaders of her Trinamool Congress that if anyone wanted to leave the party and join some other, they were free to do so. "It is their personal choice," she is reported to have said at a core committee meeting at the office at her home complex in Kolkata.
This is not the first time the Trinamool chief has acknowledged she is aware of some of her party leaders keeping back door channels open with the BJP to switch sides if necessary.
Rumours of Trinamool leaders jumping ship have surfaced, especially when CBI and the Enforcement Directorate crack down on them for links with the Narada sting operation or the Saradha or Rose Valley Ponzi scams. Today, Ms Banerjee also told the core committee meeting attended by top leaders that the "CBI will try to scare us. We should not be scared."
The meeting began with condolence for MP Sultan Ahmed who died on Monday of a sudden and massive heart attack. Ms Banerjee said he had been very stressed by being repeatedly summoned by CBI for links with Narada.
One key leader missing from the meeting today was Sovan Chatterjee, Kolkata Mayor and minister in the Mamata Banerjee government. He was at the CBI for the second consecutive day for questioning in the Narada case. He was earlier questioned by the Enforcement Directorate which has now summoned his wife. But she is unwell and in London for treatment.
Present at the meeting was Mukul Roy, the Rajya Sabha MP who was once Mamata Banerjee's right hand man but has since fallen out. He has also recently lost his chairmanship of the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture and the parliamentary consultative committee of the Home Ministry.
The other big message to party leaders from Mamata Banerjee: no Durga Puja holidays. She has warned that they must stay in their constituencies and ensure there are no riots which she said the right wing may try to provoke.
Finally, Darjeeling was on the agenda and Ms Banerjee said normalcy must return to the hills as soon as possible. However, she is aware the crisis in the hills has become more complicated since he held talks with leaders from Darjeeling on 29th August. The main party there, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, has split down the middle. Benoy Tamang, whom Ms Banerjee is backing, had called for the lifting of the indefinite bandh. But Bimal Gurung, the Morcha chief, expelled Mr Tamang for taking that decision which he said was contrary to the party's decision to continue the bandh.
Mamata Banerjee will be going to Siliguri for a second round of talks with hill parties on Tuesday. But the situation is so fluid, no is sure who will be at the meeting with her.
The performance of party leaders was assessed and at least three district leaders were pulled up. Ms Banerjee also expressed dissatisfaction with factional feuds often resulting in clashes, especially in the Basanti area of the Sunderbans in south 24 Parganas district.
The next core committee meeting will be held on October 22.