West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Friday wrote to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and said that he does not want to field any candidate against State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Bhawanipur bypoll.
On May 21, TMC MLA from Bhawanipur constituency Sovandeb Chattopadhyay had resigned from the post to make way for Banerjee. As per Article 164(4) of the Constitution, Mamata Banerjee, who lost her Nandigram seat in West Bengal assembly elections this year, can run the State as a Chief Minister but she will have to get elected in the next six months to retain her post.
Hence, Banerjee has decided to contest from Bhawanipur seat and therefore as a “good gesture” Chowdhury has taken a decision not to field any Congress candidate against her.
Speaking to News18, he said, “This is my personal opinion that we should not field any candidate against Mamata Banerjee from Bhawanipur seat. I have already written a letter regarding this to Sonia ji. Our fight against the TMC will continue but in this issue I think as a good gesture, we should not field any candidate against her.”
On being asked whether the Congress is gearing up for a long-term plan considering the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections, he said, “I think it is too early to comment on this matter.”
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP, Pradip Bhattacharya said, “Since, we still have alliance with the Left Front and Indian Secular Front (ISF), it will be better to discuss the matter with all before taking the final decision on fielding candidate against Mamata Banerjee or not.”
“Not the least, it will also be important and interesting to watch when the Election Commission of India (ECI) will announce the dates of bye-poll in Bengal,” he added.
It was learnt that the All India Congress Committee (AICC) is yet to approve the proposal sent by Chowdhury on Bhawanipur bypoll.
Since past few days, rumours are on rife that Mamata Banerjee could be among the frontrunners for Prime Ministerial candidate in 2024 Lok Sabha elections. She has been trying to stitch together a federal front of regional parties to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections.
Adhir Chowdhury is known as a strong critic of Banerjee but his “good gesture” towards her has sparked a speculation about forming a strong “federal or third front” ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
This is not the first time when a State Congress leader has expressed a soft stand towards the Trinamool Congress (TMC). In 2019, senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi, expressing the party’s weak position in Kharagpur and had suggested that the only way to stop BJP in the then held bypolls is to support the ruling TMC in West Bengal.
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