Mamata’s ‘fast’ friends turn on her

36-yr-old who sat with her at the Singur fast signs up against Trinamool chief in Kolkata South

During the peak of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's agitation in Singur, 36-year-old Barnali Mukherjee stood beside her. But now, the alumnus of Presidency College is frustrated over Banerjee's tie-up with the Congress in the state for the Lok Sabha polls.

Consequently, she has decided to contest against Banerjee in the Kolkata South constituency. Though she does not nurture the ambition of defeating the Trinamool leader, Mukherjee wants to make the battle an ideological one.

"Mamata Banerjee has entered into an alliance with the Congress, which is the known captain of globalisation in India," says Mukherjee, who quit her job as a schoolteacher four years ago and is now a full-time politician.

In December 2007, when Singur was on the boil and witnessing agitation against land acquisition, Mukherjee took part in the hunger strike led by the Trinamool chief. For the first 10 days, Mukherjee was part of the hunger strike that continued for 21 days. Her ill health, however, forced her to quit the hunger strike.

"After I withdrew from the agitation, I did not receive a call from Mamata Banerjee," says Mukherjee, who had floated her party — the Communist Party of Bharat — in the run up to the Singur agitation. The party has only 300 members across the state but has decided to contest only one seat — Kolkata south. In the remaining 41 seats across the state, her party will be supporting the CPM-led Left Front.

"Now, I understand that CPM's role is better than that of Mamata's," says Mukherjee, who was earlier expelled from CPI (M-L) for joining hands with the Trinamool.

Currently, she fully supports CPM general secretary Prakash Karat's effort to cobble up a non-Congress and non-BJP front.

Mukherjee's family stays at Kolkata's southern suburb of Garia. Her husband Kuntal Ghosh is a full-time lecturer at the Indian Statistical Institute.

Ghosh, too, is a central committee member in her wife's political outfit. In 1991, Mukherjee entered politics but this is for the first time that she is contesting elections to enter a legislative body.

Her associates know that she will not get enough votes to save her security deposit from being forfeited. But they are determined to put up a good fight. She is planning to hold small meetings near Trinamool chief's Kalighat residence.

A firm believer in "armed capture of state power", Mukherjee says: "Neither me nor my party is rich and we have no money either. So our campaign might not be so powerful like others."

"My friends and comrades will provide me a token amount of money for campaign," she adds.

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