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Name chaos in Congress

Calcutta, March 17: Several state Congress leaders said today they were upset that the party had been unable to release the list of the remaining 25 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections when rival contestants have begun campaigning in earnest.

The Congress has announced candidates for 17 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. On the other hand, the Left, Trinamul and the BJP have announced all names.

State Congress leaders said “serious discontent” in the party over the choice of candidates was blocking the selection of the 25 names.

“More than a week has passed since the first list of nominees was announced. We are confused about the delay in announcing the remaining names,” a state Congress vice-president said this afternoon.

State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the delay in the announcement of the final list was because of “some problems arising over the Dum Dum, Balurghat and Asansol seats”.

“Barring these three seats, we have almost finalised the list. But I don’t know whether it would be announced tomorrow,” the junior railway minister said over phone from New Delhi.

Adhir would be here tomorrow to chair a meeting with the chief of the Congress frontal organisations such as the Chhatra Parishad, Youth Congress, Mahila Congress and Seva Dal in an initiative to involve them in the campaign.

Congress sources said lawyer Arunava Ghosh’s refusal to contest the elections had forced the leadership to hunt for another nominee for the Dum Dum seat from where the party had earlier planned to field him. Katwa MLA Rabi Chatterjee has declined to contest the Asansol seat.

In Balurghat, a section of Congress leaders today said that it wanted Om Prakash Mishra to contest from there but sources in the party said the leadership had other plans for the Congress leader.

The sources said Mishra could be asked to contest from Dum Dum instead of Balurghat.

The leadership was considering South Dinajpur Congress president Nilanjan Roy as the nominee for Balurghat, the sources added.

Mishra said he wanted to contest only from Balurghat. “I will not shift to any other seat,” he said today.

“I campaigned for the last three months in and around Balurghat…. But now I have returned to Calcutta after knowing that there is some problem over the choice of nominee.”

He felt it would be an “embarrassment” for him to contest any seat other than Balurghat as his name was announced by former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya and AICC observer Shakeel Ahmed Khan for the Balurghat seat long back.

Adhir was yesterday praised by a section of state Congress leaders for his organisational clout. “I appreciated Adhirda’s organisational clout in an interaction with Rahulji (Rahul Gandhi),” said Burrabazar district president Santosh Pathak.