KOLKATA: TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Thursday sought to downplay party MP Kalyan Banerjee’s veiled attacks on him on the issue of leadership, stating that both of them agree to the fact that Mamata Banerjee is their undisputed supremo.
His remarks came amid perceived power struggle in the party and apparent differences between the generation-next leaders and a section of the old guards.
Veteran TMC leader and MP Kalyan Banerjee had last week said that he doesn’t consider anyone else as his leader but Mamata Banerjee, while criticising Abhishek over a recent COVID-related suggestion.
“Kalyan Banerjee asserted that Mamata Banerjee is his only leader. There is no problem with that as Mamata Banerjee is my only leader, too. There is no dispute, whatever Kalyan Banerjee has said is right,” Abhishek told reporters at a press meet in Goa.
The TMC top leader, who is also the nephew of Mamata Banerjee, insisted that the comment by Kalyan Banerjee goes on to prove that there is “no high command culture in the party”.
“And if he (Kalyan Banerjee) speaks against me, it proves there is democracy (in the TMC),” Abhishek said while replying to questions from a Bengali news channel.
Kalyan Banerjee, when contacted, declined comment on Abhishek’s statement.
“He is the honourable national general secretary of All India Trinamool Congress. I follow the instructions of Didi (Mamata Banerjee) in true spirit. I have nothing else to say,” he told PTI.
Speaking about his “Diamond Harbour model” for tackling COVID-19 — one which faced flak for the sample test figure cited — Abhishek, during the press meet, said that self examination at home is not accounted for in the official records.
“There are a few things which you need to understand. (Results obtained through) self-test kits don’t get recorded. I wanted to stress on self examination. If you conduct an RT-PCR test, it takes 24 hours to get the report. As this Omicron variant has a higher transmission rate, we decided to stress on the use of self-test kit,” the TMC’s Diamond Harbour MP explained.
The parliamentarian also said that of the 53,000 single-day tests he had talked about, 20,000 were RT-PCR and related examinations and the rest 33,000 were done with self-kit at home.
Asked if the ‘Diamond Harbour model’ would be replicated in others parts of the state, he asserted that the West Bengal government was working proactively to contain the COVID situation.
According to TMC leaders close to the MP, the Diamond Harbour model emphasises on maximum number of tests in a single day, strict implementation of COVID-safety protocol, banning of political, social and religious meetings for the time being, a dedicated control room and WhatsApp number for coordination in every panchayat and municipality among other facilities.
Talking about the recent arrest of an INTTUC leader following work disruption at Exide plant in Haldia, he said the party has zero tolerance towards such incidents.
“If someone tries to malign the party, it will not be tolerated, no matter who the leader or worker is,” the TMC leader added.