The issue of disgruntled Congress leaders putting up rebel candidates against Trinamool nominees is the thread that binds the second phase of polls on Saturday with the earlier one. And in a more orchestrated manner.
During the first round on April 18, the problem was pronounced just in North Dinajpur district, where Congress MP Deepa Dasmunshi took a rebellious stance against the party leadership.
But this time the rebel factor is present in two districts, which account for 39 of the 50 (Trinamool 29, Congress 21) going to polls in this phase.
In Murshidabad, which has 22 seats, and Nadia, with 17, apart from putting up “independents” against Trinamool candidates, some Congress leaders have asked party workers not to take part in campaigns for the ally. Murshidabad district Congress president and Behrampore MP Adhir Ranjan Choudhury has refused to withdraw his four independents pitted against official Trinamool candidates.
Even threats of disciplinary action from Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier this week could not deter Choudhury, who said his allegiance was towards his party first and the alliance later.
A heavyweight candidate facing elections in the second phase is the CPI(M)’s Anisur Rahaman, a minister for two decades. At Domkal in Murshidabad, Rahaman will face a youngster, Soumik Hossain, son of local Congress MP Mannan Hossain.
In Nadia’s Chapra constituency, the Trinamool’s Rukbanur Rahaman, brother of graphics artist Rizwanur Rahaman, whose death caused embarrassment to the state government in 2007, will contest against local CPI(M) strongman Shamsul Islam Molla.
In Birbhum district, which has 11 seats, all eyes will be on Nalhati, where Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s son, Abhijit, is making his electoral debut.