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Stage set for clash over prestige seat

Malda, May 14: Barely days after the counting of votes for the Assembly elections in the state, the warring camps have begun preparations for the Lok Sabha by-election to be held for the Malda parliamentary constituency. The seat has fallen vacant after the demise of veteran Congress leader A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury.

The parliamentarian, who had retained the seat from 1980, died on April 14. The elections to the Malda Lok Sabha constituency will probably be held along with Katwa. The Katwa seat in Burdwan is going to polls after sitting CPM MP Mehboob Zahedi died recently. According to sources in the election department, the by-elections to both seats will be held in June.

The Malda district Congress this time is projecting Ghani Khan's brother Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury as their candidate for the seat. A legislator from the Kaliachak Assembly constituency for two consecutive terms, Chowdhury was defeated this time by CPM veteran Biswanath Ghosh by a mere 1,977 votes.

Congress leader and zilla parishad sabhadhipati Goutam Chakraborty said: 'As brother of Barkatda, he is the unanimous choice for the prestigious seat. He lost the Assembly polls by a slender margin. Besides, he is well-known throughout Malda. He will also be best suited for bagging the 'sympathy' votes,' said Chakraborty.

On the other hand, the CPM is considering the name of Samar Roy as its candidate for the seat in the by-election. Krishnendu Chowdhury had defeated Roy in Englishbazar Assembly constituency by a margin of mere 906 votes. District secretary of the party Jiban Moitra, however, declined to make any official statement.

Though in the last Lok Sabha polls, Ghani Khan had defeated CPM candidate Pranob Das by a margin of 1.11 lakh votes, the CPM leadership feels it has a much better chance this time now that the Congress leader is no more.Of the Assembly segments in the Malda Lok Sabha constituency, the CPM has won from four while the Congress has bagged the rest this time.

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