Cocking a snook at Pranab Mukherjee’s warning of stern action against leaders working against the Congress-Trinamool alliance in Bengal, party strongman and Murshidabad district Congress president Adhir Chowdhury started campaigning for Independent candidates on Thursday.
Chowdhury’s defiance follows his consistent threat since Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee allotted 65 constituencies for the Congress (out of 294 Assembly seats) that he would not abide by the seat-sharing between the two allies.
Chowdhury campaigned at Bhagabangola and Sagardighi constituencies of Murshidabad on Thursday. He is backing four Independents in the district that has 22 constituencies.
Mamata Banerjee has left 18 of the 22 constituencies for Congress in this district in mid-Bengal, known as a traditional belt of the Congress.
“I do not stab anybody in the back. I have openly said that since Trinamool has fielded four candidates, I would not campaign for them. But Trinamool is fielding Independent candidates against Congress in several parts of this district and it does not have the guts to admit it,” said Chowdhury.
“The party high command may cancel my parliament membership, or, can award capital punishment for supporting Independent candidates. But I will not change my decision,” Chowdhury said.
Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told mediapersons in the last week of March that if any Congress leader was found contesting as an Independent, he would be removed from the party for six years. Even those who would not contest themselves but stoke anti-alliance fire would face severe punishment.
Since Banerjee forced the Congress high command to agree to a pre-poll alliance on her terms, there have been quite a few voices of dissidence in Bengal, but none has been as consistent and as strident as Chowdhury’s.
“Congress has proved that it is stronger than the Trinamool in Murshidabad. Congress is running 155 out of 254 gram panchayats in the district. As many as 170 of the school managing committees — out of 255 — are now run by the Congress. All three MPs are from our party,” said Chowdhury.
Chowdhury explained he would not have a problem giving a couple of seats to Trinamool in the district. “But they fielded four candidates without consulting us. I shall not tolerate insult to the Congress. Trinamool can very well withdraw their Murshidabad candidates to ensure the defeat of the Left Front,” said Chowdhury.
However, no such prospect was visible as Sagir Hossain, working president of district Trinamool and Bhagabangola candidate said, “People can understand who is actually helping the CPI(M). I am the alliance candidate. This activity of Adhir Chowdhury may help the Left Front.”
Chowdhury said, “Trinamool leaders of this district start their speeches abusing the Congress. So it is not possible for me to support them in Murshidabad. I am strictly against the alliance in this district. However, the votes of the Independent candidates will go in favour of Mamata Banerjee to make her chief minister.”