Pranab Mukherjee’s threat to suspend Congress leaders and workers working against the spirit of the Trinamool-Congress alliance seems not to have deterred those determined to sabotage the prospect of Trinamool candidates in North Dinajpur, where rebel Congress leaders are contesting as Independents in three seats.
Of the nine seats in the district, Congress and Trinamool are contesting five and four seats respectively. Among those contesting as Independents against the Trinamool candidates are Hamidul Rahman in Chopra, Kanialal Agarwal in Islampur and Chitta Ranjan Roy at Hemtabad.
Hamidul Rahaman, a popular Congress leader in Chopra who won the 2001 Assembly election from Chopra as an Independent candidate against the Trinamool-Congress alliance candidate (Trinamool contested from Chopra in 2001), is backed by a majority of Congress leaders and supporters of Chopra. He is contesting to protest the decision to allocate the seat to the Trinamool, which according to him has no support base. The Congress leaders in Chopra were desperately pursuing the high command to allocate the seat to the Congress.
In Islampur, the Trinamool has a given ticket to eight-time MLA Abdul Karim Chowdhary. Kanialal Agarwal, the Congress heavyweight leader of Islampur and chairman of the Islampur Municipality, is contesting against him.
At Hemtabad — a new constituency — Chitta Ranjan Sarkar, the sitting Congress MLA of Raiganj, is contesting against Sekhar Roy of Trinamool. Sarkar was denied a ticket after the pleas of the block Congress committees to allocate the Hemtabad seat to the Congress went unheard.
It is only in Itahar that the Trinamool is not facing a problem. The developments have come as a major embarrassment for the Trinamool as none other than Deepa Das Munshi, Lok Sabha MP from Raiganj, is backing the defectors.
Das Munshi, the wife of former Union minister and Congress heavyweight leader from Raiganj Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, is known to be the political bete-noire of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and she was against the idea of an alliance between Congress and Trinamool.
The defiance of the alliance spirit may prove costly for Trinamool in Chopra and Hemtabad. In the first, Independent candidate Hamidul Rahman has an edge over other candidates and Congress local leaders have thrown their weight in his favour. At Hemtabad, Khagen Sinha of CPI(M) may stand to gain because of difference between Congress and Trinamool.