Adhir beside rebel, not Pranab

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By BARUN GHOSH
  • Published 13.04.11
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Shaktipur (Murshidabad), April 12: Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury today chose to stay away from Pranab Mukherjee’s roadshow at Shaktipur in the Rejinagar Assembly constituency.

Instead, Adhir campaigned for an Independent in Jalangi, about 50km away, against the Trinamul Congress nominee.

The Union finance minister was said to be looking for Adhir after his chopper landed on the Barrack Square ground in Behrampore town around 6pm. But the Murshidabad strongman was away campaigning for Samsuzzoha Biswas, the Independent who he reportedly backs against Trinamul’s Idris Ali in Jalangi. He was addressing a meeting there when Mukherjee was leading a roadshow in Shaktipur.

Adhir’s gesture is being viewed as a breach of trust in Congress circles. Senior Congress leaders, including Shakeel Ahmed, the AICC leader in charge of Bengal, felt that this went against the spirit of the party’s “avowed policy” to keep the alliance with Mamata Banerjee intact.

Mukherjee himself took a serious view of Adhir’s absence from his roadshow to campaign for the rebel candidate.

“Adhir did not attend my roadshow, nor did he attend the party workers’ meeting tonight. I felt bad,” Mukherjee told The Telegraph.

When told that Adhir had been campaigning for the rebel candidate, Mukherjee said: “If he has done so, he has not done the right thing.”

Adhir, however, had sent a close aide, Murshidabad Congress general secretary Asoke Das, to see off Mukherjee at the circuit house in Behrampore when he left this morning for Nalhati to campaign for his son Abhijeet.

A district party leader said Adhir was “playing a dual role by keeping Pranabda in good humour, as well as carrying on campaigning for the rebel candidates he had fielded in Hariharpara, Bhagabangola and Sagardighi, besides Jalangi.”

Ahmed said from Calcutta that he would send a report to the Congress high command on Adhir’s campaign for the rebel candidate. “He (Adhir) told me again today that he would neither campaign for any rebel candidate nor support them whatsoever. Three days ago, he had promised me the same. This is a breach of trust. It goes against our policy to keep the alliance with Mamatadi intact.”

Murshidabad Trinamul president Subrata Saha, who is also the alliance candidate from Sagardighi, said Adhir was even “threatening at least 10 Congress gram panchayat pradhans in the area for campaigning on behalf of me”.

He said he had briefed Trinamul leaders, including Mamata, about the way Adhir was acting against Trinamul nominees in Murshidabad.

Mamata is scheduled to address a rally with Saha.

However, Aminul Islam, Adhir’s rebel candidate against Saha, rubbished the allegation against the Behrampore MP. “No Congress workers are campaigning for Saha, let alone gram panchayat pradhans. Instead, they (the workers and the pradhans) are with me, although I was denied the party symbol. People in Murshidabad do not know the Congress. They only know Adhirda.”

Although Adhir’s comments were not available as he was still campaigning in Jalangi till late tonight, his aide Das said there was nothing wrong to campaign for rebel candidates as they are all Congress members.

“They have entered the fray as Independents only because they were denied party tickets just to forge an alliance with Mamata,” Das said. “The ground reality is that Adhirda is protecting the Congress so that the CPM does not reap any electoral benefits. Trinamul candidates have no electoral prospects in the district as the party is non-existent in the state,” he added.