Veterans and Young Turks of Trinamool Congress engaged in war of words over age factor
Veteran TMC leader and MP Sougata Roy has underscored that age is not a barrier within the party and that the ultimate decision on the roles of seniors and the next generation rests with party supremo Mamata Banerjee, amid an ongoing debate over the party's internal dynamics.
The remark from the three-time Trinamool Congress MP elicited a pointed response from party colleague Kunal Ghosh, who had recently ignited the debate. Mr Ghosh questioned whether the absence of an age restriction implies that "veterans would continue in the party till they are alive".
The internal party exchange unfolded amid an ongoing purported discord among party veterans, recognised as loyalists of Mamata Banerjee, and the younger generation, perceived as close to her nephew Abhishek.
"Who will contest elections or determine positions within the party is solely decided by Mamata Banerjee. She is our supreme leader and remains the final authority in the party. While Abhishek Banerjee may be a popular youth leader, it is still Mamata Banerjee who secures votes for the party," Mr Roy said.
Highlighting a distinction with the BJP, Mr Roy pointed out that Trinamool has no rule preventing its leaders from engaging in electoral politics after the age of 75.
He dismissed the notion of introducing an age restriction within the TMC as "absurd," citing the BJP's policy of barring leaders over 75 from contesting electoral politics or holding top positions.
Referring to the TMC's recent convention at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Mr Roy noted the absence of a picture of Abhishek on the main stage, saying, "It is not necessary to have Abhishek Banerjee's picture when there is a photo of Mamata Banerjee."
Responding to Mr Ghosh's advocacy for giving importance to the younger generation, Roy asserted that Mamata Banerjee has already provided ample opportunities to the next generation of leaders within the party. "It is for Mamata Banerjee to decide. We are her soldiers," he remarked.
Mr Ghosh, closely associated with Abhishek Banerjee, countered Mr Roy's stance, expressing concern that veterans might continue to hold positions as MPs and MLAs indefinitely, leaving little room for youth leaders.
"Do the seniors need to lifelong retain the posts of MLAs and MPs? They should pave the way for the juniors in the party. If the young leaders don't get a chance, then they will get frustrated," he said.
Recently, veteran party MLA Madan Mitra proposed that senior members contribute to the party's enrichment by serving on the advisory panel.
Amid reports of a power struggle between the old and the new, Mr Ghosh claimed last week that there is no conflict between them, asserting the indispensability of both Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee to the party.
The present controversy rekindles memories of a two-year-old internal struggle within the TMC between the old guard and the young turks.
Amidst murmurs of an alleged power struggle, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had then dissolved all national office-bearer committees, including the post of national general secretary held by her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
Subsequently, a new committee was formed, and Abhishek Banerjee was reinstated as the party's national general secretary.
Since then, Abhishek Banerjee has not only gained prominence within the party but is also considered a de facto number two in the state's ruling dispensation.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)