Congress reaps dividends from ‘green belt’
For the last three decades, it has been the Congress’ most fertile zone – the so-called green belt. Even when the CPI(M)-led Left Front got a brute majority in the 2006 assembly polls, the people of Malda, North Dinajpur and Murshidabad stood by the Congress. Arindam Sarkar reports.kolkata Updated: May 13, 2011 22:50 IST
For the last three decades, it has been the Congress’ most fertile zone – the so-called green belt. Even when the CPI(M)-led Left Front got a brute majority in the 2006 assembly polls, the people of Malda, North Dinajpur and Murshidabad stood by the Congress. When the winds of change began to blow against the Left Front since 2007, its nip was felt in these three districts. And spearheading the Congress charge was the indefatigable Congress MP from Murshidabad, Adhir Chowdhury, the gritty MP of North Dinajpur Deepa Dasmunshi and torch-bearers of the Ghani Khan Chowdhury family in Malda, his brother MP AH Khan Chowdhury and niece Mausam Benazir Noor. The Congress has improved its performance. In the 2006 assembly polls, the Congress won three, Adhir-backed Independent two and the Left Front 14 seats in Murshidabad. This time, the Congress got 14, Trinamool one and the Left Front seven in the district.
In Malda, the Congress won five and the Left got seven seats in 2006. In 2011, the Congress got eight, Trinamool one and the Left Front two seats. In Uttar Dinajpur, the Congress won two and the CPI(M) won seven seats in 2006. This time, the Congress won three, Trinamool two, Independent one and Left Front three seats. Senior PCC leader Om Prakash Mishra said lack of development and swing in the Muslim vote had sealed the Left Front's fate in the three districts. Congress’ battle for Murshidabad is single-handedly led by Adhir Chowdhury. The CPI(M) is pretty strong here but thanks to Adhir, the Congress has always stopped the march of the Marxists. This has been so for the last decade. One of the most volatile districts, where CPI(M) cadres have used muscles -- and bombs -- to neutralise the Opposition, the Left has never succeeded in stopping Adhir.
In the 2008 panchayat polls and municipal polls, the Congress made serious inroads into the red bastion. In 2009, led by Adhir, Congress won the three parliamentary constituencies of the district – Bahrampore (Adhir), Jangipur (Pranab) and Murshidabad (Mannan Hossain).
“Congress stands on its own feet here. We need no support to take on the CPI(M). Our organisation works throughout the year and it is not unnatural that we reap benefits during elections,” Adhir Chowdhury told HT.
In Uttar Dinajpur, the Congress, following the illness of Prya Ranjan Dasnunshi, banks on Deepa Dasmunshi to pull them through against the CPI(M) in the husting. Raiganj MP Deepa feels that considering the stiff triangular contest that the Congress had to face because of the Independents floated by the Trinamool against them, the Congress has done well.
“We could have done much better,” said Deepa. Out of the nine assembly seats in Raiganj, the Congress contested five – Raiganj, Kaliaganj, Goalpokor, Chakulia and Karandighi – constituencies. Trinamool put up candidates in Islampur, Chopra, Hemtabad and Itahar. The Congress took a strong lead of more than 1,25,000 votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls in Raiganj, Kaliaganj, Hemtabad, Goalpokor, Islampur and Karandighi, Chopra and Itahar assembly segments.
Triamool took away Islampur, Hemtabad and Itahar.
Deepa was unhappy over the seat-sharing deal with the Trinamool. Malda, which has been heavily voting for the Congress post-2006 assembly polls, did not lag behind this time. The balance of power shifted and the Congress emerged as the superior force along with the Trinamool here.
“This was expected. The people here hold the Left Front entirely responsible for the lack of development,” said Malda District Congress president AH Khan Chowdhury.
Malda has been the Congress’ favourite hunting ground since the 1970s.
“The huge and disciplined turnout in the district during the polling day gave me the signal that people were voting for change," Mausam Benazir Noor told HT over the phone. "And that's exactly what happened."