Mamata's best day in office- Crackdown on trio who gave party red face
Calcutta, April 28: Mamata Banerjee has embarked on damage control, cracking the whip on some leaders and activists whose actions have sucked her party and government into "unnecessary" controversies, a Trinamul leader close to her told The Telegraph today.
The aide listed the political and administrative actions the chief minister had purportedly taken today, none of which were publicly announced although some indirect confirmation was available:
• She apparently asked former party MLA Arabul Islam, accused of misbehaving with and causing an injury to lady college teacher Debjani Dey, to surrender before a court (Arabul has announced that he would);
• She ordered police to frame charges against constable Tarak Das, a known Trinamul activist accused of attacking a CPM office and journalists in the past and recently beating up another party activist over a business dispute. Das, roaming free thus far, has apparently gone into hiding fearing arrest;
• She summoned Trinamul student leader Shankudeb Panda, who recently appeared to threaten teachers who support the CPM, to Writers' Buildings and chided him.
"Some people are embarrassing the party through their actions or statements…. She (Mamata) has made it clear she won't allow this to go on. She has told party leaders to be careful with their comments in public and restrained in their dealings with people," the Mamata aide, who didn't wish to be named, said.
The day's most significant public announcement came from Arabul on the sidelines of a party rally in Canning.
"I will turn up before the court in keeping with the party's directive," the former Bhangar MLA told reporters. He, however, filed a defamation complaint against Dey and some of her Bhangar Mahavidyalay colleagues at Bhangar police station this afternoon.
According to Dey, Arabul, the college president, misbehaved with her and some colleagues at the staff room, and she got hurt when a gesticulating Arabul's hand hit a jug and sent it crashing into her chin.
Trinamul sources said that following Mamata's "message", the police had drawn up an FIR against Arabul based on a complaint by Dey and nine other teachers to South 24-Parganas additional superintendent of police K.P. Barui last evening after a meeting with governor M.K. Narayanan.
Arabul has been slapped with six offences, they said, including criminal intimidation, unlawful assembly, outraging the modesty of a woman and wrongful restraint. All of them are bailable, so the police can give him bail as soon as he surrenders.
"An FIR has been lodged (against Arabul). We are investigating," Barui told this newspaper.
Arabul had been defiant till yesterday. Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee had backed him, parading a tenant of Dey's family at Writers' to publicise a private dispute and purportedly reveal "what kind of a woman" Dey was.
"This led to an impression that the government and party were backing Arabul," a Trinamul source said. "Today, the chief minister communicated to Arabul via (railway minister) Mukul Roy that she was unhappy with his conduct and he should surrender and face the law."
A senior police officer told this newspaper that Mamata had asked city police commissioner R.K. Pachnanda to initiate action against constable Tarak Das.
"I got a report from Patuli police station today that an FIR had been lodged against the constable. He has been suspended because the FIR mentions criminal charges. A departmental inquiry will be ordered shortly," said Mehbub Rehman, deputy commissioner, port division.
Das, attached to Metiabruz police station, had earlier been suspended for ransacking a CPM office in Ganguly Bagan and leading an attack on journalists during the February 28 general strike. This newspaper had reported today how he was allowed to resume his duties after a hurried inquiry gave him a clean chit.
Although Das had been charged with non-bailable offences, such as causing grievous hurt with a dangerous weapon, after the earlier attacks, the police did not act against him.
Trinamul sources said his luck ran out this time because Mamata was livid after learning he had attacked Pradip Ghosh in a dispute relating to the materials supply business run by party-backed syndicates.
"Tough action will be taken against him not only because he attacked a Trinamul activist; our leader also wants to make it clear that the administration will not tolerate such behaviour," a party source said.
Shankudeb, president of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad, had led a rally at Bhangar in support of Arabul and appeared to imply that any teacher who fell foul of Trinamul would be portrayed as a CPM sympathiser and targeted.
"We will not allow teachers to carry out the CPM's political agenda in colleges," he had said, triggering widespread alarm and condemnation.
Sources said Mamata chastised him this afternoon during a Writers' meeting with party leaders.
"The chief minister told him he had no business making such statements. She said he was bringing disrepute to the party and asked him to be careful in his conduct," a source said.
A senior government official said: "It seems she is trying to undo the damage…. We hope she will soon realise that the action against (Jadavpur University teacher) Ambikesh Mahapatra, who had forwarded an Internet joke and got arrested, was an overreaction."
A tweet by Trinamul MP Derek 'Brien in the evening appeared to be referring to the purported whip-cracking by Mamata.
"It's Saturday afternoon & Writers Building HQ of the #bengal govt is buzzing. CM setting hectic pace. Loads of positive energy," he posted.