YET ANOTHER mass exodus has helped Trinamool Congress (TMC) take over the Congress-controlled Kandi Panchayat Samiti. On Sunday, 22 members of ten gram panchayats of the Samiti defected to TMC. They were led by Murshidabad district Congress secretary Parthapratim Sarkar alias Bapi, elder brother of Congress MLA from Kandi Apurba Sarkar.
Meanwhile, amid rumours of his impending defection, which he has been denying for a long time, Apurba said, “I am still in Congress,” without elaborating.
With Sunday’s defection, the ruling party has dealt yet another sharp blow to Congress in its stronghold. Parthapratim, who was a close aide of state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, took with him important members of ten gram panchayats, including nine panchayat pradhans.
Sources said that besides Apurba, two more MLAs were on the brink of jumping ship to TMC. “Congress is near extinction from the district. We will soon take over the rest of the local self-government that remains. Congress will also soon lose the status of being the principal Opposition. We have had talks with some MLAs who will join the TMC very shortly,” said Mannan Hossain, TMC district president of Murshidabad.
Earlier, Murshidabad observer and state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari had said that by 2017, the Congress would cease to exist.
Congress observer for Murshidabad Ashok Das maintained party leaders were being threatened or enticed to defect. “They are doing it with the support of the police. It will backfire on them eventually,” he said. Former state Congress president and senior Congress leader Pradeep Bhattacharya said, “When one bank of the river erodes, new ones are created. Let the banks be which are eroding.”
The state president said nothing could be done if the renegades were leaving the party. “If need be, we will begin from zero and gain strength once again. People’s support remains with us,” Chowdhury said.