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Cong- Trinamool tug of war over Ray.

FORMER West Bengal chief minister Siddharth Shankar Ray's last rites on Sunday turned into a political tug of war between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress ( TMC).

Though Ray was a member of the Congress, it was TMC and not Congress which organised his funeral procession, with party president Mamata Banerjee walking to the Keoratala crematorium, along with party leaders.

Mamata's action was a stark contrast to her reaction when Ray's successor and friend Jyoti Basu passed away in January this year.

The TMC President had not turned up even to pay tribute to the veteran CPM leader.

This was probably because of Ray's closeness to Mamata.

Rabidly anti- Left, Ray would advise her on political and administrative issues in his last years. He had openly voiced his support for her on several occasions.

Ray's ties with the Congress had been eroded over the years.

Congress leaders, on the other hand, had to largely restrict themselves to paying their condolences.

Bhunia claimed that though he had been told by TMC leaders organising the procession that Ray's body would be brought to the Congress party office, it was not done.

" Though he was the chief minister of the state from the Congress and a former President of the state Congress, he was not even brought to the party office even once on his final journey.

This is unfortunate and very painful," state Pradesh Congress President Manas Bhunia said.

" I had requested his wife Maya Ray that his body be brought to the Congress office on his last journey. She asked me to speak to Mukul babu ( TMC leader Mukul Roy) as they were organising the procession," said Bhunia.

" I was told that the body would be brought to Bidhan Bhavan for a couple of minutes, but it was not. We have no idea under whose directions this happened," Bhunia said. He added that Congress will organise a condolence meeting in the next couple of days.

Ray's body was taken from his residence in south Kolkata to the Assembly and later to Calcutta High Court and the Cricket Association of Bengal, before arriving at the Keoratala crematorium.

Ray was the chief minister of West Bengal from March 19, 1972 to June 21, 1977, when the Congress returned to power after the 1972 general elections.

Assuming office soon after the Bangladesh Liberation War, he had to deal with the problem of rehabilitating a million refugees in the state.

Ray's tenure was shadowed by allegations that he had supported Indira Gandhi's imposition of Emergency in the country in June, 1975.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 8, 2010
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