Congress MLA to switch to TMC in a boost before RS election

In a boost to the ruling Trinamool Congress ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, Congress MLA Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury today announced that he would join the ruling party tomorrow.

"I will join Trinamool Congress tomorrow when the official announcement will be made and I will also vote for TMC candidates," Chowdhury, who is brother of late Congress' Malda strongman A B A Ghani Khan Choudhury, told reporters in the presence of TMC all-India general secretary Mukul Roy and Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee.

Chowdhary was the minister of state for science and technology and was among the six West Bengal ministers who resigned after Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee withdrew her party's support to the UPA government in September, 2012.

Chowdhary, the Sujapur MLA, said that he would contest the Lok Sabha elections, but did not name the seat. The immediate reason for his defection plan from the Congress to the ruling party was reportedly the elevation of his niece Mausam Noor Congress MP from Malda North constituency as Malda district Congress chief.

The post was earlier held by his younger brother Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, who is at present the union minister of state for health. Chowdhary's switching sides came at a time when the exodus of Congress and Left Front councillors to the TMC continued, giving the party an absolute majority in several civic bodies.

Malda district in north Bengal had emerged as a Congress bastion under the late A B A Ghani Khan Chowdhury after his win from the undivided Malda seat in 1980. He was re-elected seven times from the seat and was also the railway minister. In 1996, Abu Naser had contested the Lok Sabha poll as an Independent against his elder brother.

The Malda Congress organisation was weakened after Congress MLA Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury last year defected to Trinamool Congress and became the minister for tourism. Chand Mohammad, the lone legislator of the Samajwadi Party, a Left Front constituent recently joined TMC after merging the state unit with the ruling party.

West Bengal will elect five new members to the Rajya Sabha tomorrow. A total of six candidates were in the fray for five seats. Mukul Roy told reporters that his party was confident of a win for all the four TMC candidates.

The ruling Trinamool Congress with its 187 members in the 294-member state Assembly was in a position to elect three members to Rajya Sabha with ease. Actor Mithun Chakrabarty, painter Jogen Chowdhury and RS MP from Jharkhand, who resigned to contest from West Bengal K D Singh were among the candidates of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

The party's nominee for the fourth seat was journalist Ahmed Hassan, who was expected to face contest, considering the party-wise break-up of the House.There would be a tug of war for the fifth seat between the TMC and erstwhile partner Congress. The CPI(M) was set to win one seat with the support of the Left Front partners. 

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