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Ranjan Sarkar replaces Gautam Deb as Darjeeling district TMC president

Gautam Deb, Ranjan Sarkar
In a major shuffle in the Darjeeling district committee of the Trinamul Congress, the party's youth TMC president Ranjan Sarkar has replaced minister Gautam Deb as the district party president.
Deb, the north Bengal development minister, had been holding the post since 14 July 2004.
While a section of party leaders said the reshuffle followed the party's dismal performance in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (SMP) elections and that is was a move to clip Deb's wings, another section of the party leaders said the move was an eyewash.
The latter group is arguing that the move is a bid to address grievances aired by some Trinamul leaders against the minister, as "Sarkar is close to Deb, and that the latter can control the party despite not being in the president's post."
Deb, however, is in the nine-member new committee, which has been announced on Thursday, as the chairperson of the advisory committee.
Party sources said that a section of the party leaders had expressed their grievances with the state youth affairs minister Aroop Biswas, who is also the party observer for Darjeeling district, against Deb's way of running the party. Biswas had been touring north Bengal with chief minister Mamata Banerjee until Thursday.
"Ranjan Sarkar will take charge as the new president of the party district committee. I had been holding the post of the district party president from 2004, and according to my view, 10 years is enough for a person to hold such a post. Everyone should make space for others. I wanted to quit the post and I had said it earlier too," Deb told reporters here on Thursday.
Asked if the poor show in the polls was the reason, Deb admitted that the party did not do well in the two consecutive polls (SMC and SMP).
"But as far as the grievances are concerned, I have no information on that. I don't know if anybody wanted my replacement. But it is a good and timely decision, as young party workers are encouraged. Aroop Biswas had discussions with our party workers and Mamata Banerjee has approved the new committee," he added.
Deb also expressed hope that the party would do well in the Assembly polls under the new district leadership.
Deb, who is also the chairman of the party's north Bengal core committee, holds the posts of the chairman of the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA), Rogi Kalyan Samity (RKS) of the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and Siliguri District Hospital.
Following the defeat in the SMC polls in April, the party leadership had in June given additional responsibility to Biswas as the observer for Darjeeling district. Earlier, Deb used to solely look after party affairs in the district. Before this, Deb was removed from the post of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) chairman and he was replaced by Sourav Chakrabarty.
Party leaders close to Deb said the move was meant to reduce his burden.
"I also hold other posts and other responsibilities. I want to maintain those responsibilities more efficiently," Deb said.
Questions have been raised in the party as to whether Sarkar, who was the district youth Trinamul Congress president, can do justice to his post. Many senior party leaders expressed their displeasure over the decision.
"There were other senior leaders in the party, but Sarkar was chosen. It is a clear indication that Deb will still have control over the committee," a senior party leader said.
They also said that Deb, an experienced person, should have been there as the party president at least until 2016's Assembly elections.
Sarkar said he will follow the party's instructions.
"I have accepted the decision and will follow the instructions of the party," said the SMC councillor of ward-20. Bikas Sarkar has, meanwhile, replaced Sarkar as the president of the district youth Trinamul Congress.
Deb said Biswas will meet party leaders in Siliguri in a few days.
In the new party committee, the party's district working presidents Nantu Pal and Alok Chakrabarty have been made the district vice-presidents.(sns)

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