Sending a clear message to Mamata Banerjee, Congress on Wednesday axed 12 leaders who are contesting as Independents in assembly elections. The party also urged Banerjee to expel Trinamool rebels who are campaigning against the alliance.
The 12 Congress rebels also included two sitting MLAs who are contesting against Trinamool candidates. They have now been expelled for 6 months. The AICC also kept up the heat on MPs Adhir Chowdhury and Deepa Das Munshi but they appeared undeterred on Wednesday evening.
Addressing a news conference, AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed and PCC chief Manas Bhuniya read out the riot act to rebels working against the alliance between the Trinamool and Congress. Bhuniya tried to coat the bitter pill. "Those who are being suspended are hard working and dedicated Congress leaders who unfortunately went against the alliance. We had no option but to suspend them," said the PCC chief.
Ahmed understandably was not apologetic. "Nobody is above the party decision and I am suspending two sitting MLAs Fazle Haque and Chittaranjan Roy on the recommendation of PCC chief Manas Bhuniya. Haque, the Sitai MLA in Cooch Behar district, is contesting as an Independent from Dinhata against the Trinamool backed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate. Raiganj MLA Chittaranjan Roy is contesting against the Trinamool candidate from Hemtabad.
The other Congress leaders who have been suspended are Hamidul Rahaman (Chopra), Kanialal Agarwal from Islampur in North Dinajpur, Al-Beruni from Malatipur, Shenaz Quadery from Mothabari in Malda, Aminul Islam from Sagardigi, Syed Alamgir from Bhagabangola, Mir Alamgir (Palash) from Hariharpara, Samsuzzoha Biswas from Jalangi, Sonu Saikh from Farakka in Murshidabad and Md Rafiuddin from Hanson in Birbhum.
Bhuniya said, "We are suspending our leaders for working against the alliance and now we want Banerjee to reciprocate by taking action against Trinamool rebels."
When asked why no action is being taken against top Congress leaders like Adhir Chowdhury and Deepa Das Munshi who have tacitly encouraged anti-Banerjee stance, Ahmed said, "Both promised not to support Independent candidates. We are keeping both under scrutiny."
Adhir Chowdhury when contacted said, "I do no bother with what Bhuniya is saying." He denied that those contesting against Trinamool candidates in Murshidabad are rebels. According to the Murshidabad MP, the Congress district committee had unanimously taken a decision to field the candidates. "I will continue to back them," Chowdhury added.
When contacted Deepa Das Munshi, who is supporting three Independent candidates in North Dinajpur district, said, "Your voice is breaking."
Later calls to her cell went unanswered.