Disagreement within the Congress fold over former India cricket captain Md Azharuddin’s claim yesterday that he is “most likely to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from a constituency in West Bengal” came to the fore today when the state unit president chose to reject that Berhampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury has any “authority” when it comes to deciding who will contest from where.
The former cricketer, now an MP from Moradabad, had said that his “constituency will be decided by Adhir and Shakeel Ahmed”. The latter is secretary in-charge of All India Congress Committee in West Bengal.
“Adhir cannot decide who will contest and from where. The decision will be taken by the party high command. Although, of course, if he (Azhar) wants to contest from West Bengal, he is most welcome to do so,’’ West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.
Azhar, reportedly, has been given the option to either contest from Jangipur in Murshidabad (currently represented by Abhijeet Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee) or Basirhat in North 24 Parganas (represented by Trinamool Congress’s Haji Nurul Islam).
Surprisingly, the Election Committee of the state Congress has already sent its list of probable candidates to the AICC and Azhar’s name does not feature on the list.
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When contacted, the Berhampur MP said he was indeed contacted by the former cricketer who had told him that he was “interested in contesting from a seat in West Bengal”.
“Do I have the authority to select the candidate from any constituency? He came with the proposal and I told him he was most welcome. That was all that happened,’’ Adhir, Minister of State for Railways, told The Indian Express.
Senior state Congress leaders term the episode as an “attempt of the former captain to seek a safe refuge to contest the elections”. “He knows his present constituency in Uttar Pradesh will not send him back and so he is lobbying hard with some leaders here. But his prospects here are bleak,’’ a leader said.