The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM pep talk for Cong-stung party

Behrampore, Sept. 13: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has responded to an SOS from the Murshidabad CPM leaders, still smarting under the humiliation of losing the local zilla parishad to the Congress in the May panchayat polls. He will hold a day-long meeting with party leaders and address “demoralised” supporters tomorrow.

The Congress, which is itself mired in organisational problems, wrested the Murshidabad zilla parishad from the CPM, ending its more-than-a-decade reign. This came as the biggest blow in May to the Alimuddin Street mandarins, who reportedly prevailed on Bhattacharjee to spend a day with party workers here.

Bhattacharjee, who arrived tonight, is scheduled to hold a marathon meeting with district leaders and deliver a pep talk to the workers at the party headquarters.

Bhattacharjee, who oversees organisational matters of Murshidabad on behalf of the state secretariat, visited the district in June, soon after his return from a trip abroad, but that was in the wake of the outcry over children’s deaths. This time, he is supposed to confine himself to the party programme.

Replacing the ailing district secretary, Madhu Bag, tops his agenda. CPM sources said Bag, admitted to the SSKM hospital for nearly three months, is likely to be succeeded by Nripen Chowdhury, MLA from Nabagram and a former zilla parishad sabhadhipati. Another name being discussed is that of Murshidabad MP Moinul Hassan.

But the sources said Chowdhury is the first choice as the Alimuddin bosses do not want to burden Hassan, who is already entrusted with looking after the party’s publications. Besides, as an MP, he plays an important role in Parliament.

Chowdhury, also a CPM state committee member, wields more clout in the party organisation as he is the second-in-command in the district unit. In fact, he has been functioning as the de facto secretary in Bag’s absence.

Admitting that tomorrow’s meeting is “very crucial”, district committee member Muzaffar Hussain said the chief minister has agreed to discuss all the issues confronting the organisation. “We have to revamp the organisation to face the onslaught from the Congress,” he said.

According to party managers, the CPM suffered a major setback in May by also losing over 50 gram panchayats. “The Congress, led by party MP Adhir Chowdhury, is posing a threat to the communists despite (the party) having been in power for over 26 years,” they added.

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