Kolkata, Jan 21 IANS | 10 months ago

Veteran politician Somen Mitra, who formally joined the Congress Tuesday after resigning as Trinamool Congress MP, lashed out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over a host of issues including the chit fund scam and rising crimes against women.

The 70-year-old Mitra, who turned rebel in the Trinamool and quit as MP Jan 15, said his return to the Congress was neither sudden nor a result of retribution against Banerjee's party.

"I have not quit Trinamool because of personal attacks or out of retribution, rather because the Trinamool has been deviating from the commitments it had made to the people," Mitra said after being formally inducted into the Congress with great fanfare amid the presence of several leaders.

"When I had quit Congress, I never said I will not return. Today, I am thankful to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi for welcoming me back despite having stayed away from the party all these years," said Mitra, who quit Congress and joined Trinamool in 2008.

Mitra admitted he was apprehensive about the Congress's reaction about his return and said he was overwhelmed by the love and enthusiasm shown both by the central and the state leadership.

Taking a jibe at Banerjee, he said: "I've no complaints against the chief minister for repeatedly visiting an ailing (actress) Suchitra Sen, but why couldn't she spare a few minutes for the minor who was gang-raped twice while police remained a mute spectator".

The leader, who earlier had written to the prime minister urging action against chit fund operators in the state, said his apprehension about the rural economy being ruined as a result came true.

"She (Banerjee) asked me why I wrote to the prime minister without informing her. I said it was urgent and the matter was under the ambit of the central list. Unfortunately, all my apprehensions of a procession of deaths due to the chit fund mess have come true," he said.

Mitra was handed over the party flag by state Congress committee president Pradip Bhattacharya amid the presence of national general secretaries Ambika Soni and C.P. Joshi, and union ministers from the state Deepa Dasmunshi and Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury.

Hit by a constant stream of desertions of elected people's representatives, leaders and workers to the Trinamool, the Congress at last found something to cheer about.

There was a festive atmosphere at the venue, with workers from different parts of the state coming with bugles and drums.

"I and C.P. Joshi were specially instructed by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to be present here for the event," said Soni, hoping Mitra's return will boost the party's presence in the state.

Joshi said the whole "country was looking up to Bengal", and termed Mitra's comeback as a significant move that will help the party in the state.

Mitra resigned from his Lok Sabha seat Jan 15, accusing the Trinamool of failing to keep its pre-poll promises after coming to power in the state.

A one-time arch-rival of Mamata Banerjee when both were in the Congress, Mitra is regarded as the prime reason for Banerjee's decision to leave the Congress and float another party in 1997.

Later, the arch-rivals turned friends when Mitra joined the Trinamool in 2008 and a year later got elected as an MP on a party ticket from Diamond Harbour in the South 24 Parganas district.

(Posted on 21-01-2014)

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