Mamata Banerjee addresses the crowd in Nadia’s Plasseypara on Saturday. (Kaushik Paramanik)
Nadia, April 16: Mamata Banerjee today showcased on her campaign dais a reformed Congress rebel candidate who had pulled out of the fray, holding up his “sacrifice” before the voters as proof that the alliance was paramount.
At the rally in Nadia’s Chapra, she mounted more heat on the rebels by pressuring the Congress, which has suspended all its 13 “Independent” candidates, not to reinstate any of them even if they win.
Mamata beamed as Tahidullah Khan, 45, the Chapra block Congress secretary, said he had withdrawn from the Chapra contest “to respect the alliance”.
Tahidullah is believed to have been fielded by Nadia unit president Shankar Singh — a close aide of Mamata detractor Deepa Das Munshi —after the Congress was given only Shantipur among the district’s 17 seats.
Tahidullah pulled out on April 9, the last date for withdrawals for the April 23 polls in Nadia, Murshidabad and Birbhum. This afternoon, he climbed onto the dais at Chapra football ground as Mamata campaigned for Trinamul candidate Rukbanur Rahman, the elder brother of Rizwanur.
“I withdrew from the fray realising we all should honour the alliance to bring in change in Bengal,” he said.
Mamata said: “Tahidullah has set an example by making a small sacrifice for a greater cause.”
Earlier, rebel Congress candidate Ramprabesh Mondol had withdrawn from the battle in Malda.
During her recent north Bengal tour, Mamata had complained repeatedly about the rebel candidates, many of whom have the backing of regional party bosses. She harped on the same theme today at her rallies in five Nadia seats.
Her refrain went: “Don’t vote for the rebels. The CPM is funding them. If you want change after 34 long years, vote for the official Congress and Trinamul candidates.”
Campaigning in Tehatta, Mamata announced she was expelling Trinamul rebel Tapas Saha for contesting against the official party candidate, Gauri Shankar Dutta.
“Those contesting against the official nominees are harming the alliance. They are treacherous and won’t be taken back even after the elections,” she said. The Congress had accepted back two rebel candidates after the 2006 polls following their victories over the party’s official nominees in Behrampore and Kandi in Murshidabad.
A senior state Congress leader said: “Mamata’s warning is nothing but a tactic for pressuring the Congress.”
Earlier, while campaigning in Murshidabad, Mamata had said the leaders of both the allies had agreed that the rebels would not be accepted back even if they won.
Mamata today flew to Barnia in Plasseypara, and then to Tehatta and Chapra in a helicopter. She then travelled by car to Krishnaganj and Krishnagar.