Union finance minister and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee sought to sidestep the wave of dissidence sweeping Murshidabad and didn’t spare a word on local party strongman and Behrampore MP Adhir Chowdhury fielding Independents against Congress poll nominees, at a rally at Nabagram on Monday.
Addressing the rally in support of Prabal Sarkar, the Congress nominee from Nabagram, Mukherjee instead lauded Chowdhury’s role in strengthening the organisational base of the party in the district. The same marked a departure from his strong stance against dissidents in other districts.
“The Left Front previously held the Jangipur parliamentary constituency. It was under the leadership of Adhir that I contested and won this seat. Adhir has helped entrench our party in Murshidabad and thousands of our workers have had to sacrifice their lives for the cause of strengthening our base in the district,” said Mukherjee.
The Jangipur MP said, “We have been trying to unseat the Left Front since 1977, but failed every time. We contested separately in the assembly polls of 2001 and 2006, but could not bring down the Left-ruled government. It was only after the Lok Sabha polls of 2009 that we started to believe in our long cherished vision for change. We (Congress and Trinamool Congress) fought the Left in unison, as a result of which the Left’s tally of MPs was reduced to 15 from the existing 35. Hence, we are banking on our alliance to end the Left rule in the state.”
Seeking to ascribe the call for change to be a reflection of people’s aspirations, Mukherjee said, “Our call for change is not symbolic of lust for power. We need to bring change for the development of the people. The central government has rolled out many schemes as the Indira Awas Yojana, Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Programme for the welfare and development of the poor, but the benefits of such schemes are yet to reach the interiors of Bengal. The UPA 1 government had sanctioned 100 days work under our flagship scheme. While other states have secured 70-80 days of work under the same, Bengal barely managed 19 days of work. Work on construction of roads has also been tardy in the state. The people of Bengal would vote for change this time.”
“I had sanctioned a master plan and made budgetary allocations for Kandi, a flood-prone area. Fifteen months have elapsed since, but I am still awaiting the project report from the state government. I had also sanctioned R1,000 crore for Aila relief and construction of new dykes. But the government could spend around R500 crore. We need change,” said Mukherjee.