Malda, Apr 1 : The Congress, which has always struck a purple patch in its happy hunting ground of Malda, is certainly not in a vantage position this time with the defection of its heavyweight from the Ghani Khan Chowdhury family and two-time MP from Malda Uttar Lok Sabha Constituency Mausam Benazir Noor to the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The change of colour is being viewed as a big blow to the Congress party's hopes of reviving its position in West Bengal. For the last three decades, it has been the Congress’ most fertile zone – the so-called green belt. Even when the CPI(M)-led Left Front and Trinamool Congress got a brute majority in the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls as well as Lok sabha polls, the people of Malda stood by the Congress.With Noor parting ways, TMC has been able to break the Congress stronghold in Malda and its complete disintegration is only a matter of time when members of the family will be pitted against each other.
Malda has sent a Congress member to Lok Sabha ever since ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury first got elected in 1980 – he continued until 2004, after which his brother Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and niece Mausam Noor, became Congress MPs from the two seats in Malda. Noor, the niece of late Congress leader ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury, who won the Malda Lok Sabha seat for eight consecutive terms, is one of the most recognised political faces from the region.
The 39-year-old is a second time member of Lok Sabha, joined the ruling Trinamool Congress, contending she had taken the step to strengthen forces that can defeat the BJP. According to political analysts, her move is a breach in the Congress bastion, which the Chowdhury family had safeguarded for decades. It is needless to say, Noor holds considerable sway over her constituency by virtue of her family background.
Defending her decision to leave, Noor said, “If you want to work for the people, you can do it only under Mamata Banerjee. During the floods in Malda, she helped the people who were devastated.” Noor said, "If we want development of Malda, we have to strengthen Didi's hand. Only she is able to protect the state from the BJP. These are the reasons I changed the party." "Barkat saheb (Ghani Khan Chowdhury) had worked for the development of Malda. He believed in secularism. Didi (Mamata Banerjee) too has these qualities," the sitting MP from Malda Uttar constituency said.
“The people of Bengal want Mamata Banerjee – there is no denying that fact. I intend to work for people following the footsteps of Mamata Banerjee. Everyone in Bengal know she symbolises development and secularism,” she said. “I cannot accept the BJP’s communal politics that I have seen in play during the past five years,” Mausam stressed. “TMC has taken a strong stand against the BJP. And I have repeatedly argued for a broad alliance against the BJP. In 2009 (Lok Sabha polls), the Congress allied with the TMC. In 2016 (assembly polls,) the party allied with the CPI(M),” she said.
“Currently, TMC has workers at every booth – which neither Congress nor BJP has. I believe if we are to defeat the BJP, we have to forge an alliance with other anti-BJP forces,” Mausam added. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee nominated Mausam Noor as the party candidate in Malda Uttar constituency and the Congress High Command has named Mausam Noor's cousin Isha Khan Choudhury as her replacement candidate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Isha Khan Choudhury, who is the Congress MLA from Shujapur Isha and the son of Malda Dakshin MP Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, criticised his sister's decision and accused her of breaking away from family values. "It was her duty to preserve the principles of ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury in these difficult times. Instead, she held Mamata Banerjee's hand and joined Trinamool Congress," he said.
Chowdhury doubted if Mamata Banerjee truly intended to bring the opposition parties against the BJP. "On one hand, she has given a call to all parties to form a grand alliance to defeat BJP, and on the other, she is trying to weaken the Congress party, a significant part of that alliance," he said. Calling Mausam Noor's move, a decision influenced by political conspiracy, he accused the Trinamool supremo of easing up things for the BJP in West Bengal. The political rift reflected in the family, as a new wall between two sections of Kotwali Bhavan, the residence of the Khan Chowdhury's, can be spotted now. (UNI )