Islampur, Sept. 11: Suspended Congress MLA from Chopra Hamidul Rehman has been taken back in the party “ceremonially” by his mentor Raiganj MP Deepa Das Munshi, who did not let go of the opportunity to take on Mamata once again — this time through a poser.
Fourteen Congress members had fought against Trinamul candidates as Independents after being denied official nomination. The Congress had suspended all of them ahead of the polls to signal to Mamata that it was not tolerating indiscipline.
Deepa, a known Mamata baiter who had fielded Hamidul and two others in North Dinajpur district flouting the Congress diktat, had a question for the Trinamul chief — the answer to which, too, she was quick to provide.
“Go and ask her how she has become what she is today. She will answer that she has become Mamata Banerjee because of the Indian National Congress,” said Deepa at a meeting yesterday in Chopra’s Bhadrakali, 25km from here. The Raiganj MP was flanked by Congress MLA from Matigara Shankar Malakar and MLAs from Phansidewa and Goalpokhar Sunil Tirkey and Gholam Rabbani.
In Calcutta, a Trinamul leader said: “People of Bengal know very well how Mamata Banerjee reached this position…. She was the only person who fought the CPM. Where were these Congress leaders when she was fasting for the people of Singur and fighting for the farmers in Nandigram?” The Singur and Nandigram agitations were the Trinamul chief’s launch pads that turned around her political fortunes.
Back in Chopra, Deepa said: “Hamidul is a dedicated soldier of the Congress. He will remain with the party and today we are ceremonially welcoming him back.”
Hamidul, trying to clarify his earlier stand, said before the gathering of about 6,000: “The elections are over and done with now. We have been vindicated that there is no Trinamul presence in Chopra and we will not allow them an inch of space there.”
Sources said Hamidul, who stood out because he was the only rebel to win, had tried to put out feelers to Mamata that he wanted to join Trinamul but his overtures were rejected. “Now he has turned to his mentor Deepa to make a comeback within the Congress rank,” a source said.
Of the 14 rebel Congress candidates, Hamidul emerged the lone winner, defeating Trinamul’s Sheikh Zalaluddin in Chopra. Deepa had also fielded Kanhaialal Agarwal in Islampur and Chittaranjan Roy in Hemtabad, two other rebels.
While Trinamul’s Chowdhury Abdul Karim won in Islampur, the CPM’s Khagen Singha bagged Hemtabad by defeating Trinamul’s Shekhar Roy. Unlike Chopra, both Islampur and Hemtabad are part of Deepa’s Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency. Chopra is part of the Darjeeling seat.
District Trinamul leader Gautam Gupta dubbed Deepa a member of a “theatre” group. “She played out a drama like a member of a theatre team. The same party that had expelled the rebels is now saying Hamidul is back with them. All this posturing can never fool the people,” Gupta said.
PCC president Pradip Bhattacharya said he was not aware that Hamidur was back. “This may have happened at the local level…. We were in favour of re-inducting them (the suspended members) but a formal announcement had not been made,” he said.
Last month, the Congress’s minder in Bengal, Shakeel Ahmed, said the party had decided to take back the suspended rebels since Mamata had shown the way by drafting in Ram Pyara Ram after “forgiving” him for contesting from Calcutta Port, a seat won by Trinamul.