Fuelling speculation that he could soon jump ship to the ruling Trinamool Congress, senior Congress MLA and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Manas Bhunia showered praises on Mamata Banerjee on Thursday, calling her the best chief minister in the country.
“The Left’s decision of acquiring fertile farmland was a gross mistake. The then leader of Opposition and present Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has exemplified it not only to the people of Hooghly district but to the whole country as well. She has proved her tenacity,” said Bhunia, talking to mediapersons here. “Mamata is the best Chief Minister in the country who is fighting against communal forces to uphold the federal structure,” he added.
Criticising his own party, Bhunia said, “Congress should not be silent (on Singur issue). They should not criticise just for the sake of criticising. They should support TMC on this case. Even CPM should keep quiet for some time now.”
His comments came hours before an AICC meeting which was expected to decide his fate as part of the Congress unit. Party MLAs had recently urged the party high command to suspend him for alleged anti-party activities
The Sabang MLA has had strained relations with the state Congress leadership over accepting the post of PAC chairman in the state Assembly. State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury had accused Bhunia of working on behalf of TMC.
Sources said the AICC would be taking a final decision on Bhunia at the meeting and he might be suspended.
They also said that Khalid Ebadullah, chairman of the state Congress’ minority cell, would get the axe. The state Congress leadership had allegedly sent a letter to Ebadullah asking him to explain his activities. While Ebadullah admitted to having received the letter, he refused to comment on it.
Asked about his fate in the party, Bhunia said he was waiting for the party’s decision. “I have been working for decades as a dedicated soldier of the party, but Adhir Chowhdury, who has no Congress culture and Abdul Mannan (Leader of Opposition), who has entered the Assembly after 10 years, have taken no initiative to strengthen the party in the state. They seem to have a one-point agenda of insulting me and ousting me from the party. There had been no meeting or protest rallies and as a result the party has been melting like an ice cream,” he said.
When reminded that during the Assembly election, he had said that the next CM would be CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra, Bhunia said, “It was out of compulsion, a diplomatic political strategy which was necessary during that time. They were a bigger party and I was instructed by the AICC leadership to say so.”