Biswanath Chaudhury and (right) Prasanta Majumdar
Balurghat, Feb. 25: The RSP, which has held the Balurghat Lok Sabha seat for over three decades, has been unable to find a candidate yet as senior leaders have expressed reluctance to contest and some other names have not got unanimous support.
This scenario is a first in Balurghat for the RSP which has been the Left party’s stronghold for years, and hence the seat was considered a safe one for the party.
Sources in the RSP said a section of RSP leaders was against the current Balurghat MP, Prasanta Majumdar, being given a ticket again because of his perceived closeness to the Trinamul Congress. The RSP’s district secretary, Biswanath Chaudhury, has backing in the party to contest, but has conveyed to senior leaders that he is not keen to be in the fray.
Although the South Dinajpur district committee of the RSP met here for four hours yesterday, no consensus emerged on the party’s candidate. The meeting was chaired by state secretary of the RSP, Kshiti Goswami.
Asked why the meeting remained inconclusive despite the long hours spent for deciding on a single candidate, Goswami said over phone: “Actually, several names cropped up during the meeting. Local sentiments will have to be taken into account. We will take a decision after a meeting of our party state secretariat.”
Goswami admitted that front-ranking party leaders like Majumdar and Chaudhury had expressed unwillingness to contest this time.
“Prasantababu is unwilling. So is Biswanathbabu, because of his age. But Biswanathbabu has said that in the event of him being chosen unanimously, he will contest. Former MP Ranen Barman’s name has also come up. Let’s see what happens. After a decision is taken, we will inform the Left Front chairman (Biman Bose),” he said.
An RSP source said: “Majumdar had attended a programme organised by the railways at Buniadpur in August last year and chief minister Mamata Banerjee was also present there. At the event, he requested Mamata to raise the price of paddy and she immediately agreed to look into the matter. The next day, Majumdar praised the chief minister for her immediate response. This led many to believe that the MP was cosying up to the chief minister.”
The party source said: “Another incident that didn’t go well down with the RSP leaders was Majumdar’s appeal to the state government for assistance to set up a college in Tapan.”
Majumdar, 75, had been given the party ticket in the 2009 elections after dropping two-time winner, Ranen Barman. Majumdar won the last election, defeating Trinamul’s district president Biplam Mitra by a margin of just over 5,000 votes.
The RSP sources said the MP had said in his close circle that he didn’t want to contest again because of “physical problems”.
The RSP, once the major power to be reckoned with in the district, couldn’t withstand the onslaught of Trinamul in the last few years. In the 2011 Assembly polls, the party could retain only one out of three seats in South Dinajpur.
The district secretary and former state minister, Chaudhury, is the “automatic choice” of the state committee for the Lok Sabha poll.
“But Chaudhury doesn’t want to contest the poll as he wants to concentrate on organisational work. He has appealed to the state committee not to consider his name. Many leaders also think if Chaudhury is sent to Lok Sabha, there will be no tall leader in the district to counter Trinamul,” said a leader who didn’t want to be named.
The insiders said two other names had cropped up at the meeting yesterday.
They are district committee member Bimal Sarkar and former chairperson of the Balurghat municipality Sucheta Biswas.