Hinting at the cracks within, senior Congress leaders blamed their state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for the recent exodus of several leaders from the party, and warned that the practice will continue if Chowdhury’s “authoritarian attitude” isn’t dealt with soon.
“Our new party president (Chowdhury) never listens to others and doesn’t let even the senior leaders speak. He dissolved all the sub-committees on May 16 and not one district- or block-level committee has come up in place,” said a senior state leader on condition of anonymity.
To drive home his point, the leader named former Congress MP Mannan Hossain and Youth Congress president Soumik Hossain as examples, and then added that even WBPCC general secretary Khalid Ibadullah is contemplating to leave the state unit.
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While Ibadullah did not confirm his party colleague’s claim, he did speak of being “unhappy”. “I have been with Congress for the last 25 years and it is true that we are not very happy. But whether or not I will quit and join some other political party, I don’t want to comment at the moment,” Ibadullah clarified.
As if the prevailing resentment against him wasn’t enough, Chowdhury, during a recent meeting of leaders in Delhi, insulted AICC general secretary in-charge Shakeel Ahmad Khan, alleges the senior leader quoted above.
“He accused Khan of lobbying in Bengal and said he should not be visiting the state. It happened during a meeting in Delhi. (AICC general secretary) C P Joshi who headed the meeting had to intervene and say it was not possible that Khan would not visit the state.
He also asked Chowdhury to submit a report on his allegations but he has not yet done so,” the leader said, adding that the matter was reported to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, although any action is yet to be taken.
The leader was explicitly critical of the fact that heads of WBPCC, CLP and Youth Congress were all from Murshidabad (the district in which Chowdhury’s Lok Sabha constituency Berhampore falls). “Is Murshidabad representing Bengal?” he asked.
Both Joshi and Chowdhury refused to comment on the alleged altercation. While Joshi referred this correspondent to contact “the state president about it”, Chowdhury declined comment, saying “I should not be discussing what happened at a private meeting before the press”.
He, however, admitted that the “exodus of MLAs and other leaders has increased after I took over as the party’s state president”. “But what can I do about it? I can’t force them to stay in the party.”
Khan, meanwhile, played down the incident. “It is a democratic party and we are all allowed to exchange our thoughts. Yes, there was difference in opinion, which, at times, could lead to an argument as well.”
Amid the unabated criticisms is also floating the state unit’s inefficiency. The WBPCC website still says Pradip Ghosh is the president of Congress’ central district committee when Ghosh quit and officially joined the BJP on June 22.
When this was pointed out to Chowdhury, he admitted that the website should have been updated. “If that is the case, I will immediately look into it,” he said.