Calcutta, May 13: The winds of change proved too strong for the rebel candidates fielded by Congress leaders Adhir Chowdhury, Deepa Das Munshi and Shankar Singh.
Of the 18 Congress rebels who contested as Independents, only one has won — Hamidul Rahman defeated Sheikh Zalauddin of the Trinamul Congress at Chopra in North Dinajpur.
Chowdhury, the Murshidabad strongman who fielded Independents against Trinamul nominees in Sagardighi, Bhagabangola, Jalangi and Hariharpara, today said: I accept responsibility for the defeat of the four Congressmen I had backed as Independents after they were denied official nominations.
He added: People voted for Mamata Banerjee to usher in paribartan (change) and my men could not withstand this partibartaner cyclone.
But while his candidates could not win, two of them ensured the defeat of the Trinamul nominees. In Hariharpara, Adhirs nominee bagged 44,982 votes, the Trinamul candidate got 51,935 and the Left bagged 58,293 votes. In Bhagabangola, where the Left won by over 13,000 votes, the Congress rebel polled 40,000 votes to Trinamuls 49,528 votes.
Das Munshi, the Raiganj MP, had fielded two candidates at Islampur and Hemtabad in North Dinajpur. She is also reported to have backed a rebel at Dinhata in Cooch Behar. All three lost.
But Rahmans win in Chopra buoyed Das Munshi who said he would be taken by the Congress. The party had suspended the rebels.
Rahman is very much a Congress man despite the fact that he had entered the fray as an Independent, she said.
But the defeat of all the other rebels has undermined the position of Das Munshi, Chowdhury and Shankar Singh, the Nadia district party president who fielded rebels in Kaliganj, Karimpur, Nakashipara and Krishnagar South.
We have got reports about some key party functionaries who backed rebels against alliance candidates. They will have to explain why they backed dummy candidates against our alliance nominees. But first things have to settle down, Shakeel Ahmed, the AICC secretary in charge of Bengal affairs, said over phone from Delhi.
It is unclear if the Congress will take back Rahman, and therefore increase its tally by one, but a Trinamul general secretary said they would pressure the ally to keep all rebels out.
Apart from the 12 candidates backed by the three leaders, two Congress rebels contested in Malda — Malda North MP Mausam Noors cousin Shenaz Kadri was one — and one each in Calcutta and South 24-Parganas.
Two Trinamul rebels who fought against their own party were defeated.