Calcutta, Oct. 15: Mamata Banerjee wished Murshidabad Congress MP Mannan Hossain a “long life and good health” on his 60th birthday today, sparking speculation in political circles that she was trying to woo the anti-Adhir Chowdhury lobby.
According to a Trinamul source, the “attempt” was to strengthen the Trinamul’s base in the Congress bastion. “Mamatadi is well aware of Mannan’s frosty relations with Adhir Chowdhury (Behrampore Congress MP). Her letter was an attempt to woo Mannan into the party fold because Trinamul does not have a base in Murshidabad,” the source said.
Of the 22 MLAs from Murshidabad, Trinamul has the lone MLA from Sagardighi —Subrata Saha. While 14 MLAs belong to the Congress, the rest are with the Left.
Mamata’s relations with Chowdhury came under strain in the run-up to the Assembly polls, when the Murshidabad district Congress president fielded party dissidents against Trinamul nominees in four segments.
A Congress district secretary from Murshidabad said Mannan had publicly protested when Chowdhury objected to his son’s candidature for the Domkol seat.
But according to Mannan, today’s letter was just a “courtesy”. “Since my early days in the Congress, I have had steady relations with Mamata, even after she floated the Trinamul Congress in 1998. She sent me a five-line letter in Bengali, wishing me a long life and good health, with a bouquet and sweets. This is just a courtesy,” Mannan said.
He ruled out defecting to Trinamul.