Calcutta, April 14: Adhir Chowdhury today wondered why Mukul Roy’s son was not given a ticket when Mamata Banerjee’s nephew was contesting the polls, seeking to drive a wedge into Trinamul that the Bengal Congress president said was “divided” over the choice of candidates.
The junior railway minister broached the issue amid murmurs in Trinamul ranks that Roy’s attempts to secure a seat for his son Subhrangshu, a party MLA from Bijpur in North 24-Parganas, did not yield result because of Mamata’s reluctance, sources said.
“If the chief minister’s nephew can get a ticket, why was Mukul Roy’s son denied an opportunity to contest?” he told a news conference in Calcutta when asked about Trinamul’s candidates for the 42 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress leader added that there was “a division in Trinamul over the choice of candidates”.
“Take it from me, many of those candidates recommended by Mukul were not given tickets. Mamata is only projecting her nephew,” Chowdhury said.
Mamata’s nephew Abhisekh Banerjee is contesting the Diamond Harbour seat. According to Trinamul insiders, party heavyweights Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Bakshi and Roy are overseeing the campaign to ensure his victory.
Repeated calls to Roy’s cellphone went unanswered.
His son Subhrangshu told The Telegraph: “I don’t understand why Adhirbabu is so concerned about my candidature. If he wants to have a say on our party affairs, I would request him to join us.”
According to Congress sources, Chowdhury raked up the issue to attack Mamata on two counts — one, he wanted to counter the chief minister’s persistent criticism of Rahul Gandhi as a beneficiary of the Congress’s dynastic politics and two, he tried to send out a message that all was not well between Mamata and Roy in Trinamul.
During the 45-minute question-answer session with journalists, the junior railway minister said Trinamul’s Tamluk MP, Subhendu Adhikari, was being sidelined in the party.
“Subhendu is not being allowed to become a state-wide leader despite his popularity. He has to remain confined to Tamluk,” he said.
Subhendu could not be contacted. His father Sisir Adhikari, the Trinamul candidate for Contai, said: “Adhir should not bother about my son. We are all happy in Trinamul. Others should not interfere in affairs of our party.”
Chowdhury, who is contesting the Behrampore seat, also took a jibe at Mamata’s choice of actors and singers as candidates. “There is no bar on actors and singers to become MPs. But my question is why were die-hard party people denied tickets?” he asked.
Since Mamata announced the list of candidates on March 5, there have been reports of large-scale discontent in the districts over candidates.
Sources said some of Mamata’s star candidates such as Arpita Ghosh in Balurghat, Indranil Sen in Behrampore, Sandhya Roy in Midnapore and Sugata Bose in Jadavpur have had to face tough questions at workers’ meetings.
In Burdwan, a section of Trinamul workers has refused to write graffiti as the candidates for the Burdwan East and Burdwan-Durgapur seats have a Left history.
Trinamul leaders reacted strongly to Chowdhury’s “interference” in Trinamul affairs.
“Let him first set his own house in order, where factionalism reigns supreme, before talking about us,” said a Trinamul general secretary.
Trinamul secretary-general and IT minister Partha Chatterjee said tonight that he would hold a news conference tomorrow to counter Chowdhury “point by point”.
Rahul Gandhi will address two campaign meetings in Malda and Murshidabad on April 19, AICC secretary Shakeel Khan said on Monday.
He said the venues for the two meetings were being worked out in consultation with district leaders.