Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury. (Surajit Roy)
Malda, Sept. 10: A walkout by the Left Front members of the Malda zilla parishad today enabled the Congress to form the board in the rural body and win the sabhadhipati and saha-sabhadhipati posts.
Sarala Murmu and Syed Ahmed were elected the sabhadhipati and saha-sabhadhipati, respectively, winning the Congress’s 16 votes against Trinamul’s six.
The zilla parishad has a total of 38 seats, of which 16 each are with the Congress and the Left. The remaining six are with Trinamul.
Sarala, a 28-year-old homemaker, had won from Old Malda and today, she defeated Kalpana Chowdhury to win the post of sabhadhipati, which is reserved for women. Ahmed contested successfully from Kaliachak III.
All members of the zilla parishad were today administered the oath of office by the district panchayat officer, Uttam Mandal. After the swearing-in, the 16 Left members walked out of the house when the voting took place.
Although Left chairman Biman Bose had announced earlier that the alliance wouldn’t contest for the two posts, there was a speculation today that it might put up candidates. But the Left members stayed away.
“As the Left didn’t have the majority, we decided not to put up candidates. However, it will be difficult for the minority Congress board to run the zilla parishad. We will play the role of a responsible opposition,” said Malda district Left chairman Jiban Moitra.
Rumours swirled in the Congress camp initially that Rajlakshmi Mukherjee, the daughter of party MLA from Ratua, Samar Mukherjee, would be the candidate for the post of sabhadhipati.
Mukherjee, however, clarified later that he was happy with the party leadership’s decision on the candidates. “The party leadership’s decision is final,” he said.
The Congress had shepherded all its 16 members to a private guesthouse in Calcutta last week, apprehending that Trinamul would woo some of them. They were also asked to switch off their cellphones. All the 16 Congress members reached Malda last night from Calcutta, where they were kept isolated for nearly a week because the party feared that Trinamul would try to win them over.
District Congress president and South Malda MP, Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, said the party was capable of running the zilla parishad. “The CPM stayed away as it knew that the party would not be able to run the zilla parishad and only the Congress is capable of doing so.”
Trinamul Congress MLA from Englishbazar and tourism minister, Krishnendu Chowdhury, however, smelt a Congress-Trinamul deal in the entire process.
“Abu Hasem had spoken to Biman Bose and that is why the Left decided not to participate in the voting. The people have seen through the nexus between the Congress and the Left,” Krishnendu said.