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Three women make Assembly debut - Mausam wins, margin more than mom Ruby

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  • Published 9.01.09

Malda, Jan. 9: The Congress retained the Sujapur Assembly constituency with Mausam Benazir Noor today romping home past her nearest rival, the CPM’s Haji Ketabuddin, by more than 21,000 votes.

A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s niece bettered her deceased mother, Ruby Noor’s margin in the 2004 state elections by over 4,000 votes.

The results of two more Assembly bypolls were also announced — Nandigram in West Midnapore and Para in Purulia.

The Trinamul Congress bagged Nandigram with a thumping margin of nearly 40,000 votes. Party chief Mamata Banerjee said the win signalled the beginning of the Left’s “end”.

The party had fielded Feroza Bibi, a 60-year-old homemaker who had lost her son in the March 14, 2007, police firing in the land war zone. To the people of Nandigram, Feroza’s appeal lay in being the “martyr’s mother”.

In the predominantly tribal Para, the CPM’s Minu Bauri won by 40,787 votes but the significance of the result lay in the emergence of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha as a competing force. Its candidate Charan Bauri got 22,850 votes, the bulk of which came from Trinamul supporters.

Women emerged winners in all three seats and all were debutantes on the political stage.

In Sujapur, the counting of the votes began at Barlow Girls High School at 8am. Later in the afternoon, Mausam received her certificate of victory from the returning officer and district magistrate Sridhar Ghosh.

“The people of Sujapur will continue to remain with us and we will complete my mother’s unfinished work. I dedicate this win to my departed mother,” a beaming Mausam said.

The CPM leadership of the district today conceded that the charisma of the Khan Chowdhurys of Kotwali was yet to fade from the minds of the electorate. “We have lost to the charisma of Barkatda and the money power of the Congress,” said CPM district secretary Jiban Moitra. This time, the Left party’s election planks were the alleged violence indulged in by the Congress and the lack of development in Sujapur.

“This win was expected. Kotwali has won over the CPM’s slander campaign. The party has failed to terrorise our voters. We thank the central forces whose presence ensured a free and fair polls,” said Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, the Lok Sabha member from Malda and Ghani Khan’s brother.

The defeated candidate, Haji Ketabuddin, insisted that there had been no development in Sujapur for the past two decades. “We will have to analyse the votes to find out why we lost,” Ketabuddin said.

A section of the CPM leadership attributed the debacle to the infighting in the party. “Why did Ketabuddin, who won by 12,000 votes in the panchayat elections and become a zilla parishad member, could not utilise that win in the Assembly bypolls? That should be investigated,” a senior CPM leader said.

Some of the leaders said the grassroots level of the party was not armed sufficiently to take on the Khan Chowdhurys. It was A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury who won from Sujapur in 1952 and since then the family had turned it into its bastion. Most CPM workers were in awe of the family, a Left leader admitted.

He said the Congress did not need any heavyweight leaders like Pranab Mukherjee or Adhir Chowdhury to campaign for Mausam, thanks to the family’s charisma.