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Hashem hears Delhi ringtone
- Swearing-in hope for Ghani brother

Malda, Oct. 26: Abu Hashem Khan Choudhury, the Congress MP from Malda South, today said he received a phone call from the Union cabinet secretary, strengthening suggestions that his name is on the shortlist for Sunday’s scheduled induction to the UPA ministry.

Abu Hashem, who is in Delhi now, said over phone: “I got the call from the Union cabinet secretary around 11am today. He told me to be prepared as there is a ministry shuffle ahead. I was told to be at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday morning at 11.30am. He said that a letter was being despatched to me.”

Congress sources in Delhi confirmed Abu Hashem’s statement. They said Bengal Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya too had been called to Delhi and was likely to get a berth. Bhattacharya confirmed that he was flying to Delhi tomorrow but did not say anything about getting a phone call.

Bhattacharya, a Rajya Sabha member, said Abu Hashem had called him this afternoon. “Daluda telephoned me this afternoon to say that he was told to stay in Delhi on Sunday. I would be happy if he is inducted into the cabinet,” he said.

Congress sources said Abu Hashem had been ticked off by the high command for speaking to the media on the phone call.

Asked whether he expected a berth in the Union ministry, Abu Hashem, who is Ghani Khan Choudhury’s brother and is known as Daluda to friends and family, said: “I had come to Delhi after the Prime Minister wanted me to be here. I have been here since Tuesday. Who will be chosen the minister is up to the party high command and the Prime Minister. However, I have been hearing that I might be considered during the shuffle. I have never been invited in this way before. Let us see.”

But he seems to have planned for the moment.

“My brother A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury always wore a suit while being sworn in and I will do the same. I do not know what ministry will be allotted to me. But I have been hearing that I might get irrigation as Malda is prone to river erosion. I will work to the best of my ability if I get the chance,” Abu Hashem said.

If the phone call to 74-year-old Abu Hashem today was indeed an invitation to be in the central ministry, it will mean a Malda leader and a member of Ghani Khan’s family becoming a minister after 23 years. Ghani Khan last held a central portfolio in 1989.

Malda’s Kotwali, where the Khan Choudhurys reside, had another contender — North Malda MP Mausam Noor who is Abu Hashem’s niece. But Congress sources said Mausam had written to the AICC ruling herself out as she is pregnant.