Adding to the misery of an already beleagured party leadership, veteran Trinamool Congress leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay has threatened to quit the party after he was assaulted by activists of a rival faction at the Calcutta University.
Chattopadhyay, a Trinamool founder member and trade unionist, was its first lawmaker in West Bengal after the party was formed Jan 1, 1998.
Now the chief whip of the party in the state assembly, Chattopadhyay was heckled and beaten up Tuesday by a group of Calcutta University employees who raised slogans hailing Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee.
Chattopadhyay, who had gone to the university to attend a party demonstration, was held by the collar and pushed by some employees, owing loyalty to a rival union.
"This is the second time I have been humiliated. The first attempt was made in August when a party faction tried to malign my image. Now I have been assaulted. I am hurt more mentally than physically".
Chattopadhyay said he called up the party chief after his humiliation, but "I did not get a positive reaction from her. I am not in the party to serve my own interests. I was one of those who were with Mamata from day one of the party formation".
"But the way I am being repeatedly insulted, I may have to think about whether I should continue in the party if the leadership failed to take action".
"I have not been made a minister. I have no problems with that. I formed the Trinamool trade union, but that has been taken away from me. But I accepted it like a disciplined solider of the party. But I cannot compromise with dignity and self-respect," he said.
Chattopadhay's outburst came close on the heels of Singur's Trinamool legislator and disgruntled minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya alleging that a section of his partymen indulged in extorting money from the people and Banerjee herself was aware about it.
Bhattacharya was recently shunted from agriculture to the statistics and programme implementation department, but refused to join his new assignment.
After two days, Banerjee swung into action to mollify Chattopadhyay, known for his clean image and the huge respect he commands among the party rank and file for his steadfast loyalty to Trinamool.
While Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim called him up in the morning, veteran minister Subrata Mukherjee invited Chattopadhyay to his office in the evening.
Coming out, Chattopadhyay did not spell out details of the meeting.
"It was an unfortunate incident. He has told the chief minister. We will also tell her. Then as the party chief she will do whatever is to be done," Mukherjee said.