Shehnaz Quadery campaigns in Malda’s Mothabari on Monday. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, April 4: A rebel candidate and a member of Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s family — known to be traditional Congress loyalists with currently two MPs and one MLA — today refused to withdraw her nomination as an Independent from the Mothabari seat where the party has fielded Sabina Yasmin.
District Congress president and Malda South MP Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury said his niece Shehnaz Quadery, whose name he had proposed to the high command as probable candidate, refused to withdraw her nomination against the party choice despite repeated requests.
On the last day of withdrawal of nominations today, only one of the three dissident Congress candidates withdrew their names.
The Trinamul candidate from Manikchak, Sabitri Mitra, breathed a sigh of relief as Ramprabesh Mondol, a former MLA of the same constituency, withdrew his nomination.
But there was no relief for former zilla parishad sabhadhipati and Trinamul candidate of Malatipur, Gautam Chakrabarty. Congress zilla parishad member Albiruni refused to withdraw from the fray.
Quadery, a resident of Beck Bagan in Calcutta, has been camping at Kotwali, the Congress seat of power in Malda. It is the home of Abu Hashem and his brother Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury, the MLA of Sujapur.
It is also the home of Malda North MP and state youth Congress president Mausam Noor. Naser Khan has been fielded from Sujapur this time too. A new entrant from Kotwali is Isha Khan Chowdhury, Abu Hashem’s son. He has been fielded as the Congress candidate from Baishnabnagar.
Quadery has made it clear that she will put up a strong fight against the Congress candidate in Mothabari.
“I am fighting as an Independent and I am not a member of the Congress, so the question of me being blacklisted by the party does not arise. The Congress leaders of the district always fall back on the achievements of my eldest uncle, the late A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury, with nothing to show for themselves. My name was suggested as a Congress candidate from Mothabari, but the high command did not give me a ticket. So why should I care for the party? I will show my mettle as an Independent,” Quadery said before leaving for Mothabari.
She said the Congress workers in her constituency were by her side and were working tirelessly for her.
“I have been visiting the district for the past 30 years and I am no stranger to the people. I will win and fulfil Barkatmama’s dreams for a better district,” she said.
When confronted with questions on Quadery’s decision, Abu Hashem said he had urged her to withdraw her nomination. “My niece is not a member of the Congress, but even then I had requested her to withdraw her nomination, but she did not listen to me,” he said.
However, the district Congress president said stern action would be taken against Albiruni, who did not withdraw from the fray in Malatipur.
“I had cautioned all the dissidents to desist from disturbing the anti-Left alliance, as it would be in favour of the CPM’s chances,” he said.
Albiruni said the people of Malatipur wanted him to contest.
“The constituency is a citadel for our party and even then it was handed over to the Trinamul that has absolutely no base there. Eleven of our zonal presidents had put in their papers and we are no longer with the Congress. I am fighting as an Independent,” Albiruni said.
Ramprabesh Mondol said although he has withdrawn his nomination to “honour the alliance between Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee”, he would distance himself from Kotwali. Asked why he had filed nominations in the first place, Mondol said: “I was under the notion that my party would make me the candidate. Even though many top leaders had assured me of that I was deprived.”