Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi. Jay Mandal/On Assignment
Calcutta, July 24: Everybody loves Pranab Mukherjee’s seat, not the one in Rashtrapati Bhavan but that in Jangipur.
Several members of the President-elect’s family are eyeing the Jangipur parliamentary seat that he vacated.
Pranab’s elder son Abhijit, the Congress MLA from Birbhum’s Nalhati, has requested Murshidabad strongman and Behrampore MP Adhir Chowdhury to back him for the seat, which is in the district.
According to state Congress sources, Pranab’s daughter Sarmistha and sister-in-law Suvra Ghosh too are contenders for the seat and are learnt to have spoken to Pranab. Pranab’s private secretary Pradyut Guha is also keen to contest.
But the big question is will Mamata Banerjee give the seat to the Congress or put up a Trinamul candidate.
District Trinamul president Mohammed Ali said: “We deserve to contest the Jangipur seat as we have no parliamentary seat in Murshidabad. We are the strongest political party in Bengal.”
Another Trinamul leader said it was only because of Pranab’s “stature” that the party had earlier not staked its claim to the seat. “But things have changed now.”
Mamata has not commented on the issue yet.
Abhijit said from Delhi today: “Yes, it is true that I had last week requested Adhirda to back my candidature for the Jangipur seat. He told me he had no problem provided the high command selected me.”
Chowdhury confirmed Abhijit had approached him. “I welcome Abhijit to contest his father’s seat. But first, our high command has to clear this.”
AICC Bengal in-charge Shakeel Ahmed said if Abhijit contested from Jangipur, he would have to vacate the Nalhati Assembly seat, which could then easily fall into Trinamul’s pocket. “In the Assembly elections, Abhijit had been backed by Mamata. That may no longer be the case now and there is a strong possibility that Trinamul will try to grab the Nalhati seat,” Ahmed said.
Suvra, a state Congress general secretary, said: “If the party asks me to contest (from Jangipur), I am ready.”
Guha is learnt to have told the high command that he still enjoyed some organisational clout in Bengal as he was the state Youth Congress chief in the late eighties. “Pradyut probably wants to return to active politics,” a PCC leader said.