AFTER LOSING Malda, Congress on Friday received another setback when it lost control of the zila parishad in Murshidabad, the stronghold of state party president Adhir Chowdhury, when seven of its members switched over to the Trinamool Congress along with three Left MLAs.
With this, Trinamool has completed its annexation of all zila parishads in the state. In August, it had captured the zila parishads of Malda and Jalpaiguri, where Opposition CPM and Congress were in majority. Of the 10 members who joined Trinamool on Friday, seven were from Congress, two from CPM and another from Left Front constituent RSP.
“In the 70-member Murshidabad zila parishad, which has an effective strength of 69, 10 members have joined Trinamool. Earlier, we had 29 members and required six more to capture the board. We have now got the majority with 39 members,” Suvendu Adhikari, transport minister and party’s in-charge of Murshidabad district, told mediapersons in Kolkata.
To stop the exodus, Congress had reportedly held a closed-door meeting with the elected rural and civic body members of Murshidabad in Berhrampore. A meeting with zila parishad members was also held on Thursday. But all failed. “Shoumik Hossain, the son of district Trinamool president Mannan Hossain, had taken the lead role in ensuring the exodus,” said a Trinamool leader.
While Adhikari claimed that Murshidabad would now be a “Congress-free zone”, the transition has been extremely controversial. The Opposition has repeatedly alleged that the defections were “un-constitutional” with Trinamool using “money power” and “coercion”.
Adhikari, however, said: “The entire state of Bengal is now under TMC’s control. How can Murshidabad be left out?…. Those who had joined our party followed the Constitution… They have realised that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is working sincerely for Bengal’s development… They want to involve themselves in the process and usher in more development.”
But the Congress was left fuming. Party MLA from Murshidabad, Manoj Chakrabarty, said those who defected should resign and take fresh mandate of the people. “It is highly immoral to get elected on one party’s symbol and then defect to another party,” he claimed. Congress spokesperson Asok Das added: “Some are defecting to Trinamool only for money and others are unable to bear the pressure being exerted by the administration.”
Senior CPM leader Sujan Chakrabarty, meanwhile, accused Trinamool of trying to make the state “Opposition less”. “Trinamool is trying to get rid of all Opposition in the state. It is using money, coercion and other immoral means to ensure that criticism against it is stopped,” he said.