The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Adhir away and fine, not Cong

Calcutta, Nov. 4: When the CPM asks a 'wanted' minister to quit and surrender in court, he does so.

When the Congress tells a leader to do the same, he cocks a snook at the party brass.

Adhir Chowdhury, a proc- laimed absconder who is wanted for allegedly engineering the murders of a father and son in Behrampore town this July, today again said: 'Surrender' What surrender'

The Congress's Behrampore MP, now staying away from the state in his official residence in Delhi, added: 'I have not committed any wrong, let alone murder. I am a loyal soldier of the Congress, but I will accept my leadership's injunction only regarding party programmes in my constituency. I will visit Behrampore; when and how will be disclosed later.'

He has cancelled his participation in the November 9 law-violation programme in Behrampore apparently fearing police action.

For the second time in 24 hours, he dared the police to pick him up from his 82 South Avenue apartment. 'Look, I'm not on the run. I am here, waiting for the police. Let them show their guts.'

The working president of the state Congress, Pradip Bhattacharya, said: 'We have to abide by the Election Commission's directive. Those against whom warrants of arrest are pending will have to surren- der at any cost. I have instructed the district units.'

The commission had said that a person in whose name an arrest warrant lies pending for over six months will cease to be a voter.

Chowdhury's wife Arpita is also wanted in connection with the murders, but she has sought anticipatory bail on grounds of ill health.

Narayan Biswas, the former minister of state for small-scale industries, had shamed the CPM and the government by avoiding court in connection with an arson case for 16 years but the party recovered lost ground by getting him to surrender.

The Behrampore court declared Chowdhury an absconder yesterday. But Abdul Mannan, the MLA from Hooghly known to be close to the MP, said: 'No chance that he will surrender. The case Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's police are talking about is fabricated.'

Biswas and Manabesh Chowdhury, the CPM's South Dinajpur secretary, who are now in jail, had also said that the case against them was false.

Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress, too, has several leaders wanted in connection with criminal cases. 'We cannot go against the Election Commission,' Mamata is also believed to have told associates.

The party MLA from Rashbehari and chief whip in the Assembly, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, will seek anticipatory bail from the Baruipur court in connection with a 1991 ransacking of a BDO's office.

But the party brass do not yet have a clear picture about the number of functionaries facing the poll panel's axe.

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