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Pranab’s willing if Delhi gives nod
- Party workers ask Mukherjee to contest from Jangipur, Sudip denies overtures to Congress

Farakka (Murshidabad), March 8: Pranab Mukherjee, the state Congress president and Rajya Sabha member, might contest the Lok Sabha polls from Jangipur in Murshidabad, former PCC chief Somen Mitra said today.

Mitra, accompanied by Mukherjee, was here to attend a daylong convention of party workers at the Farakka Barrage Ground, about 300 km from Calcutta.

Murshidabad district Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, the sitting MP who had wrested the Behrampore Lok Sabha seat from the ruling Left Front in the 1999 elections, was among those present at the meet.

Mukherjee was sitting beside Mitra when he made the announcement. “Pranabda will have to accept the verdict of the majority in the party, which wants him to contest from the Jangipur seat this time,” Mitra said amid thunderous applause.

A smiling Mukherjee said he was not opposed to the idea if the high command desired so. “I may be willing to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Jangipur, but a final decision has to be taken on this score by the party high command.”

The Congress’ central election committee has convened a three-day meeting beginning March 13 to finalise the list of party nominees for the coming polls, Mukherjee said. “If it approves my candidature for the Jangipur seat, then I have no objections.”

In 1977, Mukherjee had for the first time contested the Malda Lok Sabha seat — albeit unsuccessfully. He lost to the then CPM nominee, Dinesh Joarder. Three years later, he fought from Bolpur, but lost again to the CPM.

However, the cloud seems have lifted in the three decades that have passed since then. The mood was upbeat at today’s meeting where thousands of party workers demanded that Mukherjee be given a nomination from Jangipur.

“Those opposed to Pranabbabu say that he has never won a direct election. This time, we will make him win the election from Jangipur to prove he can sail through in a direct contest,” said a key party functionary from the district.

“Today’s workers’ convention has been organised to drive home the point that Pranabda is going to contest as the Congress candidate from Jangipur. He is sure to sail through this time as the Congress has a stronghold in the district,” said Chowdhury.

The graffiti on the walls detailing Mukherjee’s successful stint as PCC chief also bore testimony to the fact that he is the party’s chosen candidate from Jangipur.

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