The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Berth pangs for Cong in bastion
- Controversy over candidates in Malda
Ghani Khan: In a spot

Malda, March 24: The Congress, which for long had regarded the district as one of its bastions, is in a spot this time with controversies plaguing four of the 11 Assembly constituencies.

The crisis is primarily over the choice of candidates with the nominee for Englishbazar, Phani Roy, declaring that he wants to contest from Malda, the constituency from where he had been fielded earlier.

Roy today met veteran Congress leader A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury and told him about his decision. 'I have always contested from Malda and won twice. I might reside in Englishbazar but have long withdrawn from urban politics. At 65 years, I do not want to take it up again,' Roy said.

A former municipality chairman, Roy was critical of the party's decision to field him from Englishbazar without consulting him.

The other three constituencies, which have been sucked into controversy, are Manikchak, Malda and Ratua. Block and district workers of the party are not happy about the selection of candidates for these seats.

For example, the Malda block Congress leaders are not willing to accept Arjun Haldar as candidate for Malda. On the other hand, Sheikh Jalil's candidature in Manikchak is being opposed by Congress workers, who want Ramprovesh Mondal in his place.

Barring Ratua, the AICC yesterday finalised the names of candidates for 10 seats. Amit Bose, backed by Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, and Samar Mukherjee, a follower of Pranab Mukherjee, are vying for the Ratua seat. While Samar Mukherjee's name was forwarded to Delhi, the AICC is yet to take a decision.

Five of the 10 seats ' Kaliachak, Sujapur, Araidanga, Harishchandrapur and Kharba ' are being contested by the Congress's sitting MLAs.

District Congress president Ruby Noor said it was only natural that some names would be changed as the list has not yet been finalised. 'We are looking into what can be done with Malda and Englishbazar,' she said.

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