Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Defiant Adhir vows to keep opposing Mamata, gets BJP’s offer, after Kharge reads riot act to him

'I am a soldier of the Congress, and I cannot stop my fight against someone who is out to finish off the Congress,' Chowdhury said at Baharampur in West Bengal.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 18 May 2024, 23:24 IST
Last Updated : 18 May 2024, 23:24 IST

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Kolkata: West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Adhir Chowdhury on Saturday just stopped short of revolting against the party’s ‘high-command’ and vowed to continue his tirade against Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress, notwithstanding the party president Mallikarjun Kharge’s stern message to him.

“I am a soldier of the Congress, and I cannot stop my fight against someone who is out to finish off the Congress,” Chowdhury said at Baharampur in West Bengal. He held a news conference in his Lok Sabha constituency after Kharge told journalists in Mumbai that the party’s high-command, not Chowdhury, would decide on the continuation of the alliance with the TMC.

As Chowdhury’s rift with the top brass of the Congress on the issue of the grand old party’s relations with the TMC came out in the open, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to extend an offer to him. “I would like to tell Adhir Da that if you want to fight against Mamata Banerjee, you must find an appropriate place. You are now in a place that is full of ‘Bibhishanas’. Leave that place, and come to Lord Rama’s place,” Sukanta Majumdar, president of the BJP’s West Bengal unit, said.

Banerjee had on Wednesday said that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would not be able to win enough Lok Sabha seats to form the next government at the Centre and I.N.D.I.A. bloc would come to power, with external support.

“We would give leadership to the I.N.D.I.A bloc and would extend all sorts of support to it from outside so that it could form the next government at the Centre,” she had said, addressing an election rally at Chuchura in Hooghly Lok Sabha constituency. She, however, had made a subtle change in her stand the next day and said that the TMC was a part of I.N.D.I.A. bloc and would remain so at the national level.

Chowdhury, a bête noire of the TMC supremo, reacted to the statements by Banerjee, by calling her an ‘opportunist politician’. He accused her of changing her position after realizing that the political landscape was changing and I.N.D.I.A. bloc would form the next government at the Centre.

That Chowdhury’s comments about Banerjee did not have the approval of the top brass of the Congress was clearly conveyed by Kharge on Saturday. “Mamata Banerjee is with the alliance (I.N.D.I.A.).

She has recently said that she would join the government (that I.N.D.I.A. bloc would form at the Centre)”, the Congress president told journalists in Mumbai, replying to a question on Chowdhary’s statement that Banerjee could not be trusted and might even lead her TMC into an alliance with the BJP.

“Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will not take the decision. I and the party high-command will take the decision. Those who do not agree will go out”, Kharge said, virtually reading the riot act to Chowdhury.

“I am also a member of the Congress Working Committee and a representative of the party high command,” said Chowdhury, who has been leading the grand old party in the outgoing Lok Sabha. “I am fighting to save my party in West Bengal”.

That the Congress top brass is not happy with Chowdhury’s strident campaign against Banerjee and the TMC was also evident from the absence of any other central leader in the party’s electioneering in West Bengal, except Kharge, who addressed a rally in Malda Dakshin Lok Sabha constituency, but avoided seeking votes for the party’s state unit chief in neighbouring Baharampur.

Banerjee had played a key role in bringing several opposition parties together during the run-up to the parliamentary polls, attended its meetings, and even named the bloc I.N.D.I.A. But she refused to spare more than two of the 42 Lok Sabha seats for the Congress in West Bengal.

The TMC decided to go solo in all the parliamentary constituencies in the state when its offer was rejected by the Congress. The CPI (M), however, entered into an electoral understanding with the Congress in West Bengal, despite fighting against each other in Kerala.

Banerjee often blamed Chowdhury for the failure of the negotiation on the sharing of the Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal between the TMC and the BJP.

“My opposition (to Banerjee) is based on ethics, nothing personal,” said Chowdhury, who won from his Baharampur LS constituency five times since 1999. The TMC fielded retired cricketer Yusuf Pathan to take on Chowdhury in his pocket borough.

Published 18 May 2024, 23:24 IST

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