Malda, Mar 31: The Congress campaign in the border district of Malda begins and ends with A B A Ghani Khan Choudhury.
The Malda district comprising two Lok Sabha constituencies - Maldaha Uttar and Maldaha Dakshin - can be labelled as the Amethi of West Bengal. If Amethi is identified with a family, here is an individual who reigns - Ghani Khan Choudhury.
Congress candidate in Maldaha Dakshin Lok Sabha constituency Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, who is battling anti-incumbency and "non-performer" tag, is still harping on the work done by his late brother Ghani Khan Chowdhury, even after 13 years of his death, to retain this seat for the fourth consecutive time.
Ghani Khan Chowdhury , who won from the Malda seat for eight straight times, served as Minister of Railways in Indira Gandhi's and Rajiv Gandhi's governments from 1982 to 1989. He is also famous for actively taking part in introducing Metro in Kolkata.
Ghani Khan Chowdhury, considered the tallest leader of the party in Malda, had been district chief for many years.
So while Abu Hasem takes credit for getting the Ghani Khan Institute of Engineering and Technology for Malda, he doesn’t forget to mention that it was his family and the “great Ghani Khan” who built a railway equipment manufacturing factory in Malda town.
“Barkat sahib” has done much for the district, and whatever development one sees has mostly happened during his time. “People believe us and our family. They know only we will carry forward his legacy of development,” said Abu Hasem.
The bordering district of Malda has been a Congress bastion for several decades. Even after the Trinamool Congress formed a government in the state, the Congress maintained its hold on the district.
The 78-year-old Khan Chowdhury, the younger brother of Ghani Khan, who is fondly known as 'Barkat-da' and respected as the architect of modern Malda, this time faces Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Dr. Moazzem Hossain and BJP candidate Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury. The CPI(M) has so far not fielded a candidate for the seat, indicating its support to Abu Hasem.
Elected to the 14th Lok Sabha in a by-election in 2006 after Ghani Khan's death, Abu Hasem is seeking re-election from the seat which has urban, semi-urban and rural segments.
This time, however, Abu Hasem, is facing a tough fight with Trinamool Congress and BJP raising the bogey of him being "inactive and a non-performer". They further alleged that he failed in his duty of carrying forward the development in the constituency undertaken by his late brother.
Abu Hasem has been replaced recently as Malda Congress chief after only three days in the post following discontent in the ranks over the family of the late A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury continuing to occupy key roles.
Asked about the change, he said, “None of us is above the party. Whatever the party has decided, we will follow it.”
In the previous Lok Sabha elections held in 2014, Congress candidates Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury defeated his nearest BJP opponent Bisnu Pada Roy by 1,64,111 votes.(UNI)