For Bengal Congressmen, Defeat Comes Before Battle - The New Indian Express

For Bengal Congressmen, Defeat Comes Before Battle

Published: 16th Mar 2014 08:38:12 AM

Congress leaders in Mamata-land are a dejected lot. Even before the final list of candidates is out, they seem to have accepted defeat. All senior state party leaders have refused to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls offering various excuses.

Except for a few Congress strongholds in constituencies such as Murshidabad, Malda and Kolkata North where party heavyweight (who recently defected from TMC) such as Somen Mitra are contesting, the general mood is one of frustration.

Senior leaders like Pradip Bhattacharya, Manas Bhuiyan and a strongman from Nadia, Shankar Singh, have refused to be nominated.

The six sitting MPs, including two Union ministers of state, A H Khan Chowdhury and Deepa Das Munshi and state Youth Congress president Mausam Noor, are naturally contesting.

Union minister of state for Railways, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, was recently appointed as PCC president. Since the state party unit did not want any alliance with the ruling Trinamool Congress, Chowdhury, known for his opposition to TMC and CPI(M), was Rahul Gandhi’s first choice.

During the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had allied with TMC. The Congress-TMC alliance before the state Assembly polls in 2011 was struck at the last moment.

Though the Congress joined the state government, the alliance lasted just six months as TMC ministers resigned after Mamata withdrew support from UPA-II in 2012.

The state Congress’ tale of destruction started soon after. While workers in the districts began deserting the party in hordes to join the ruling TMC, even legislators elected on Congress ticket soon followed suit.

To-date, of the total 42, seven Congress MLAs have joined TMC, reducing Congress’s strength to just 35.

The only exception has been veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan who agreed to be nominated from Sreerampur Lok Sabha seat. But he too is now angry with the party high command for ignoring names of leaders suggested by district party units for contesting the polls.

He said, “I will not desert the Congress with which I have been associated for more than half a century. I will either stay or resign from politics.” However, Adhir pointed out that the nominee for the adjoining Lok Sabha seat in the same district was being finalized as per Mannan’s wishes.

State Congress leaders said this time the party is sure of gaining only two seats—Maladaha Uttar and Baharmapur. They feel that as the TMC is the ruling party and is fielding a host of celebrities, it would again sweep the Lok Sabha polls.

As such, a crushing defeat for the party here seems to be a foregone conclusion.

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