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Call for Malda rural chief removal
- North Malda cong leaders revolt

Malda, June 22: Crisis continues to dog the district Congress as zilla parishad members from North Malda Lok Sabha constituency have demanded that the newly-elected sabhadhipati, Ujjwal Chowdhury, put in his papers and be replaced with somebody among them.

This was made clear today by the presidents of the party’s six blocks in North Malda, eight zilla parishad members and panchayat samity sabhapaties to district Congress president Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury at a meeting in Chanchal. The meeting was also attended by North Malda MP Mausam Noor.

The Khan Chowdhurys, particularly Abu Hashem, however, are seeing the move as a conspiracy to divide the Congress and have asked the dissenters to keep the interests of the party foremost in their mind.

Although Ujjwal was elected the sabhadhipati by all 17 Congress zilla parishad members on June 16 when his name was suggested by Abu Hashem, there had been murmurs of protest from North Malda.

When asked why they had voted Ujjwal to the post of sabhadhipati, Mostaq Alam, a zilla parishad karmadhakshya and a prominent face in the dissident faction, said they had thought of the interests of the party.

“We could have abstained from voting on that day but it would have meant playing into the hands of the CPM. But since then, there has been widespread dissent among our workers and members,” said Alam.

Al Biruni, who contested as a rebel candidate against the Trinamul Congress’s Gautam Chakrabarty in Malatipur in the Assembly elections, said North Malda had no representation in the state government.

“We have four MLAs from North Malda and not one of them has been made a minister. Both Sabitri Mitra and Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury are from South Malda. We have made it clear that unless the sabhadhipati, who is also from South Malda, is replaced by one of us, we will function in our own way and not as the district leadership wants us to,” said Al Biruni.

Alam said today’s decision had been faxed to leaders in Delhi. “We have sent copies of our decision to Sonia Gandhi, Shakeel Ahmed, Pranab Mukherjee and the PCC. We have also given a copy to our district president.”

After the meeting, Chanchal MLA Asif Mehboob said North Malda Congress leaders’ reaction was “natural”. “They are asking why they are being neglected and I think their reaction is only natural,” said Mehboob.

Abu Hashem, however, felt that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy to break the party in the district. “Ujjwal Chowdhury’s selection as the sabhadhipati was taken after discussions with the district leadership. He was elected by all our 17 members on June 16. I cannot understand why there are dissenting today. I feel that there is a strong conspiracy to harm the party in the district,” Abu Hashem said without explaining who the conspirators were.

The district Congress president said he had told the leaders at today’s meeting that a lot of sacrifices had to be made in the interest of the party.

“I will sit with other district leaders and discuss the demands made by North Malda members. We will have to go by the decision taken collectively by the district leadership. But, there is no question of asking the sabhadhipati to step down,” Abu Hashem said.

Mausam echoed her uncle. “We have requested them not to do anything that could weaken the party. However, the North Malda leaders and workers have some grievances and the district Congress president is looking into them.”

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