Amidst allegations of horse-trading and muscle flexing, five members from the opposition, two from the Congress and three from the Left Front on Friday voted for the Trinamool Congress for the Rajya Sabha elections that took place here leading to the victory of the fourth candidate of the ruling party, Ahmed Hassan Imran.
Elections were held for five seats. The fifth seat went to CPIM’s Ritabrata Bandopadhyay. The independent candidate Syed Ahmad Malihabadi who was supported by both the Congress and the CPI(M) lost the race getting only 37 votes.
The two Congress members who defected are : Sushil Roy from Gajol constituency in Malda district and Imani Biswas from Suti constituency in Mirshidabad district.
Both of them have been suspended from the party for an indefinite period of time, Pradip Bhattacharya, WBPCC president, told Indian Express.
But what stunned the Congress most was the backstabbing done by Abu Naser Khan Chaudhury, MLA from Sujapur in Malda and brother of Congress stalwart ABA Ghani Khan Chaudhury. Khan, who on Thursday declared that he would vote for the Trinamool Congress, today voted for the Congress, declaring before the media that `Congress was in his blood’. But what he did was while he was casting his vote he put his signature at the back of the ballot paper, something that is against electoral rules. In effect, he got his ballot paper cancelled. ”
“We will investigate whether there was any foul play,” Pradip Bhattacharya further said.
Minister for railways Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, who is the president of Murshidabad district Congress Committee alleged that Biswas fell victim to lures from the Trinamool Congress. “He has a business in real estate and he must have got help from the ruling party,” Chaudhury told Indian Express over phone
But the thing that proved to be a cause for agony and concern for Left leaders in the state was that three MLAs of the Left Front, Anantadeb Adhikary of RSP who represents Moynaguri in Jalpaiguri, Dasarath Tirkey of RSP who represented Kumargram in Jalpaiguri and Sunil Mandal of Forward Bloc who represents Galsi of Burdwan district, voted for the Trinamool Congress.
Left Front Chairman Biman Bose reacted sharply to this development that pointed to erosion of left values. “We witness money has played a big role in this election. It is unfortunate.”
However Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refuted the allegations saying Trinamool Congress had no money to ingulge in such kind of practice. “We are a poor political party. We can not do such things,” Mamata said in the evening at the assembly.
She also said that she had no expectations from the fifth candidate, CPIM’s Ritabrata Bandopadhyay that he would do something for the state.
Both RSP and Forward Bloc have said they were going to take action against the three members. “Our member should be expelled from the party. We have recommended to that effect. The RSP too is going to expel their two members, we have heard,” Biswanath Karak, Opposition chief whip and senior leader of Forward Bloc told Indian Express.
Meanwhile the five MLAs who ditched their parties had offered their own reasons to do so. For example Imani Biswas claimed he had not committed any treachery with the party. “I informed my party about my decision last night. All my life I fought against CPIM and now I can not vote for a candidate who was supported by CPIM,” Biswas told Indian Express.
Echoed Sushil Roy, “My vote for TMC was an expression of my revolt against the party’s policy of appeasing the CPIM.”
RSP’s Anantadeb Adhikary said he voted for the TMC in protest against the Stalinist policies of the CPIM. “They never did any development for north Bengal where I am from,” Adhikary said.
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.