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Trinamul switch on Naser mind

- Fissures in Ghani Khan clan show as uncle refuses to work under Mausam leadership

Malda, Dec. 18: Abu Naser Khan Choudhury has said he wants to defect to Trinamul, creating political fissures in the Kotwali address of the late A.B.A Ghani Khan Choudhury, whose clout had made Malda a Congress bastion.

The immediate reason for Abu Naser’s defection plan from the Congress to the state’s ruling party is his niece Mausam Noor’s elevation as Malda district Congress chief. The post was earlier held by Abu Naser’s younger brother Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, who is the junior Union minister for health.

Abu Naser is the Sujapur MLA, while niece Mausam is the Malda North MP and Abu Hasem the Lok Sabha member from Malda South. Both Mausam and Abu Hasem were guarded in their response today and seemed to doubt whether Abu Naser would really quit the Congress. In 1996, Abu Naser had contested the Lok Sabha poll as an Independent against elder brother Ghani Khan and lost.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said Abu Naser’s decision was “unfortunate”.

Yesterday, the Sujapur MLA had said he was not informed about Mausam’s elevation though they lived in the same house.

He said Mausam’s selection as the district party president would not augur well for the Congress as it smacked of dynastic politics. Mausam is the third person from Kotwali to hold the post after her late mother, Ruby Noor and Abu Hasem.

Today, Abu Naser harped on similar lines but also said he “will not work under such a junior person in the party”.

“I will leave the Congress soon and join the Trinamul Congress. I have made up my mind. I will meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Calcutta and tell her about my decision,” Abu Naser said when reporters today asked him about his outburst yesterday against Mausam’s elevation.

A source close to Kotwali, where the Ghani Khan clan lives in Malda, said Trinamul leaders had contacted Abu Naser after his comments yesterday.

According to the Kotwali source, who did not want to be named as the person is not allowed to speak officially on the matter, Malda Trinamul Congress president Sabitri Mitra sent an emissary to Abu Naser today. The two spoke from 11am to 1pm.

Mitra confirmed that she had sent a party leader to meet Abu Naser. “The information is correct. I had sent a party leader to meet him at Kotwali. Lebubabu (as Abu Naser is known locally) has expressed his desire to join our party. He also said he wanted to have a discussion with our leader Mamata Banerjee. I have sent the information to our state leadership,” Mitra said.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said Abu Naser’s talk of defecting to Trinamul was “unfortunate at a time party people have been deserting the Congress”.

Bhattacharya said the “organisation would suffer a lot, particularly in Malda”. He said he would speak to AICC leaders to see “if something can be worked out”.

Congress sources said the state leadership may try to placate Abu Naser by offering him a post in the party in the state.

The Malda Congress organisation was weakened after Congress MLA Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury defected to Trinamul.

The district has been a Congress bastion since Ghani Khan Choudhury’s first Lok Sabha win from the undivided Malda seat in 1980.

He was re-elected seven times from the same seat and was also the Union railway minister.

Questioning Mausam’s experience to lead a district unit, Abu Naser said: “It is time to leave the Congress as there are webs of intrigue around me. I will not work under such a junior person in the party. What qualification does Mausam have to be made the district Congress president? Am I any less qualified? We reside in the same house, we regularly meet and even then I was purposely kept in the dark about Mausam’s elevation. I am the co-president of the party in Malda and no one thought I should be taken in confidence? I am hurt.”

He also alleged some property problems in the Khan Choudhury family.

Abu Hasem, when contacted in New Delhi, said over phone that all the allegations by Abu Naser were “mere gossip.”

Mausam, when asked about uncle Abu Naser, said: “I have nothing to say in this matter. I do not believe that my uncle will leave the Congress.”