| Adhir: 'Punish me'
April 9: Adhir Chowdhury today dared the Congress to 'punish' him for fielding Independents against his own party nominees in Murshidabad.
'I don't know any leader in the party other than Sonia Gandhi,' the Congress MP from Behrampore told a news conference in his Behrampore house, 200 km from Calcutta.
'I dont' care for state leaders who have been encouraging factionalism in the party's Murshidabad unit to humili- ate and marginalise me,' he added.
Reminded that he was risking disciplinary action, Chowdhury took a dig at defence minister and state party president Pranab Mukherjee. 'Let the PCC chief take disciplinary action against me'. I shall not cower before threats. It is not necessary that I should abide by his diktats.'
In 2004, Chowdhury had spearheaded a month-long movement and had been on hunger strike in Murshidabad demanding Mukherjee's nomination from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat.
Once Mukherjee entered the fray, Chowdhury threw his organisational weight behind him to ensure that he sailed through. After Mukherjee won the seat, Chowdhury organised a public meeting in Jangipur to thank voters.
The scene reversed a year later. In May 2005, Chowdhury put up Independents against Congress candidates in Kandi and Murshidabad municipalities and Mukherjee publicly resented the action and avoided campaigning in the areas. Observers said the episode left a deep scar in their relations.
Mukherjee said in Midnapore town today 'the Murshidabad development has really posed a problem for us'.
Chowdhury, also the Murshidabad Congress president, is backing Manoj Chakraborty in Behrampore, Mir Alamgir in Hariharpara and Apurba Sarkar in Kandi against party nominees Mayarani Pal, Niamat Sheikh and Atish Sinha.
He told a party workers' convention in Behrampore yesterday that he would campaign for the Independents, who are fighting on an axe symbol.
'The AICC re-nominated Pal, Sheikh and Sinha on the basis of recommendations from the state leaders. I don't trust them... they have been promoting factionalism to strengthen the CPM,' the Congress MP said.
The trio had not been part of the rallies in Chowdhury's support after his arrest and imprisonment in connection with a double murder last year. He also alleged that in 2004, some state Congress leaders had backed the trio under whose patronage dissidents had floated the Indira-Rajiv Mancha to run a 'parallel organisation in the district'.
In Calcutta, state Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya said the AICC general secretary in charge of Bengal has been briefed about Chowdhury's activities. 'We are keeping watch'. It is up to the AICC to take a decision.'