By Sirshendu Panth
Kolkata, Sep 16 (IANS) Investment banker-turned feisty Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra seemingly has a penchant for grabbing the headlines. If it is not for her cogently argued fiery speeches in Parliament, the former JP Morgan vice president is getting media space for inexplicably lobbying for a party lawmaker with the BJP and “ordering” the Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in the manner of a stern corporate boss.
Though she gained widespread attention after her spirited Lok Sabha debates, 44-year-old Moitra now appears to be losing the brownie points in the rough and tumble of realpolitik in West Bengal.
Moitra, the MP from Krishnanagar in Nadia district, has raised the hackles of a section of Trinamool leadership in her Lok Sabha constituency for trying to “run the party in corporate style”.
Appointed by Trinamool supremo and state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the party president in Krishnanagar constituency post the Lok Sabha elections, the articulate MP stoked a controversy by shooting off a letter to all Trinamool block and area presidents asking them to hold organisational meetings.
The letter directed that meetings be arranged with Gram Panchayat heads, booth, Zilla Parishad and area presidents between September 1 and 16. Similarly, area committee meetings have to be conducted between September 2 and 16.
The letter ended with the words “by order” below which was signed “Mahua Moitra”. The style of the letter has not gone down well with the likes of four-time legislator from Nakashipara Kallol Khan.
The 65-year-old leader wrote to the party supremo besides the district party observer Rajib Banerjee expressing annoyance at Moitra importing a “corporate style” in giving instructions to the workers.
“Our workers do party work with all sincerity. But the way it has been written has made me sad and ashamed,” he said. “No, I haven’t got a reply to the letter. But the Chief Minister has told me that she (Moitra) shouldn’t have written like this,” Khan told IANS.
The MLA said Banerjee has told him that as an “old warhorse of the party” he should continue to do his work and reach out to the masses. “If she mends her ways and keeps in touch with the workers then they will obviously be happy. But if that doesn’t happen, the workers will be disgruntled”.
Resentment is also brewing against Moitra over the little time she has spent in her constituency since her victory in the general elections. Khan said she didn’t even turn up for a district committee meeting. “I don’t think she is in the constituency now.”
However, Rajib Banerjee downplayed Moitra’s absence. “She (Moitra) did not attend the meeting because she was unwell. She had taken prior permission of our leader (Mamata Banerjee) to be away.Once she comes back, she will attend the meetings,” the state irrigation minister told IANS.
Banerjee parried queries about Khan’s letter, saying it was an internal affair of the party. “This is not something I can tell the press. Whatever is needed we will do at the party level,” he said.
Banerjee also denied there was any problem relating to Moitra. “I don’t think there is any such problem. We are conducting the party affairs smoothly,” he added.
As the issue raged, state BJP President Dilip Ghosh, known for his plainspeak, dropped a bombshell. Ghosh was responding to reporters’ queries about his meeting with Trinamool MLA from Raidighi and veteran Bengali film actress Debasree Roy, who was reportedly keen on joining the saffron party, but the matter got stalled over new BJP recruits Sovan Chatttejree and Baisakhi Banerjee objecting to her inclusion.
Ghosh said he had met Roy at Moitra’s insistence He said in a telephonic conversation, Moitra had told him that Roy was looking for him. “Mahua said Debasree wanted to talk to me and asked me whether I have spoken to her. I said no, I haven’t met or talked to her. Then she said Debasree had gone to the BJP headquarters.
“But your party is not accepting her. She is not even in Trinamool. She is tense and wants to meet you,” Ghosh quoted Moitra as saying.
“I said that’s fine. If she comes, I will talk to her,” he added.
“Then Debasree came to my residence, I was not at home then. So we couldn’t meet. Then I told her through an intermediary that she should come to my residence again. She came again and we talked,” said Ghosh.
Despite a number of attempts, IANS could not contact Moitra. She did not accept or return calls, or respond to WhatsApp messages.
However, speaking on the condition of anonymity a senior Trinamool leader said, “The party will talk to her, look into it.”
The urbane and sophisticated Moitra, a graduate in economics and mathematics from Holyoke College, USA, left her cushy job at JP Morgan in the UK, to join politics in 2008, when Rahul Gandhi drafted her in the Youth Congress as a state coordinator for his project Aam Aadmi Ka Sipahi.
She switched to the Trinamool two years later, and in 2016 got elected to the Assembly from Karimpur in Nadia district.