A low turnout at the INTTUC state conference in Durgapur yesterday has put a big question mark on the success of the conference. The second state conference of the labor wing of Trinamool Congress held at the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Ground; in the heart of the Durgapur Steel Township also saw founder leaders of the trade union like, Sobhondeb Chattopadhyay and Subrata Mukherjee being absent.
Less than half the 30,000 invited workers attend the event. Sources in the Trinamool trade union said only 10,000 to 12,000 delegates turned up from across the state. Although a minimum of 30,000 delegates were invited.
“We expected a gathering of over 30,000 and made all necessary arrangements. But most of them did not turn up. A huge quantity of leftover food had to be distributed among the poor,” said an INTTUC leader of the organizing committee.
Most of those present in the conference were seen filling up their plates at the dining halls as ministers Partha Chatterjee and Purnendu Bose spoke. Many workers were also seen leaving the ground after lunch when senior Trinamool leaders such Chatterjee, Bose, Malay Ghatak, Subrata Bakshi and INTTUC state chief Dola Sen were sitting on the dais.
Sobhondeb Chattopadhyay, one of the founder leaders of TNTTUC, way back in 1998 said, “I deliberately stayed away from the event to protest the way the leaders have spent on the event,” Chattopadhyay said in Calcutta. Another veteran trade union leader of INTTUC, Subrata Mukherjee said, “I had other engagements in Calcutta during the day. So, I could not attend today’s INTTUC event in Durgapur.”
A few months ago, Chattopadhyay was heckled by a faction of party workers at Calcutta University.
Sources said many in the audience whispered about the absence of the two veterans even as senior Trinamool leaders on the stage spoke of one factory, one union.
An INTTUC leader at a carbon-manufacturing unit in Durgapur who stayed away from the meeting said, “The INTTUC started mushrooming in the steel and coal units in Durgapur and Asansol under the leadership of Sobhondeb Chattopadhyay. He was the chief of the union in the state then. It is shocking to learn how he has been sidelined in the party. I knew Sobhandebda will not come and so did not attend the conference.”
A Subrata Mukherjee loyalist in Durgapur said today’s conference was attended only by the loyalists of Dola Sen and Purnendu Bose.
“It was a particular faction’s conference. It had no relation with the state INTTUC. We cannot think of any conference without Subratada. He has had a deep-rooted relation with trade union politics for years. Who knew Dola Sen and Purnendu Bose before Trinamool came to power,” said an INTTUC leader.
At the state conference, Durgapur (east) MLA and chairman of Asansol Durgapur Development Authority, Mr Nikhil Banerjee, was not visible raising many eye-brows.
At the conference, Trinamool leaders spoke against factional feud and stressed on the “one factory, one union” policy.