Seventy two hours before the AICC high command announces the candidate for the ensuing Jangipur parliamentary by-elections, scheduled for October 10, Congress MP and Murshidabad district Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said Jangipur is not a cakewalk this time.
Chowdhury believes that in the absence of President Pranab Mukherjee as candidate, who represented the Jangipur Lok Sabha seat twice, Congress would face a stiff competition from CPI(M), which wants to get back the seat it lost 10 years back; the BJP, which has a sizeable chunk of votes here; and an Independent Muslim candidate who would target the community votes.
“Even if Trinamool Congress does not field a candidate in Jangipur, we are possibly heading for a four fronted contest. It is going to be a tough contest for the Congress,” said Chowdhury.
Mukherjee won the Jangipur seat in 2004 and 2009 parliamentary polls with a margin of around 39,000 and 1.29 lakh votes. Mukherjee’s stature and his contribution to the development of Jangipur helped Congress defeat the CPI(M). But with Mukherjee in Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Congress on the back foot in national politics, it will be difficult for the new candidate to seek votes in his favour.
The CWC and AICC member in-charge of Bengal, Shakeel Ahmed, said he has received a panel of three candidates from the Bengal PCC for the Jangipur seat and he would present the names to AICC president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday. “We expect the name to be declared by Saturday,” said Ahmed.
Chowdhury said Nalhati MLA and Mukherjee’s son Abhijeet is likely to contest from Jangipur and face the Opposition fire. “This seat has 70% Muslim votes and 7% BJP votes. And with Pranab Mukherjee not contesting, it is difficult to judge where they would vote,” said Adhir. “Also, the Trinamool’s role would be questionable.”
The CPI(M) is fielding Mozaffar Hossain as its candidate for the Jangipur parliamentary by-election. Chowdhury, who defeated him in 1996 Nabagram Assembly polls, considers him a tough candidate. “And we apprehend an Independent Muslim candidate to contest to further queer the pitch for the Congress,” said Chowdhury.
While the CPI(M) would campaign against Abhijeet’s inexperience and the scam-tainted image of the Congress, the Congress would highlight Mukherjee’s role in development of Jangipur and the misrule of the CPI(M).
Shakeel Ahmed indicated that the AICC is banking on Chowdhury to win the Jangipur by-elections. “He is very efficient and the past results emphatically prove he can win elections for the Congress,” said Ahmed.