From single-handedly steering the Congress boat in West Bengal to being named as the party leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has come a long way to rise from under the shadow of other party heavyweights like Abu Ghani Khan Choudhury.
The five-term MP pipped Kodikkunnil Suresh, the senior-most Congress MP, and his colleague from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor to the post held by Mallikarjun Kharge in the 16th Lok Sabha.
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The popularity of the 63-year-old can be gauged from the fact that he retained the Berhampore seat by an impressive margin of 80,000 votes despite the party fighting to stay relevant in Bengal in the face of a saffron surge.
Born on April 2, 1956, in Berhampore, Chowdhury shot into the political limelight after he won the seat in 1999 against all odds as it had not been won by the Congress since 1951 and was a Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) stronghold. RSP has been winning the Berhampore seat from 1952.
That Chowdhury has not lost a Lok Sabha election from Berhampore since 1999 attests to the bond he has with the people of the minority-dominated, backward district.
Since then, he has bettered his winning margin with every election and eventually became Murshidabad district’s most influential man. Even in the 2016 Assembly elections, Congress candidates won in all seven Assembly segments under Berhampore Lok Sabha seat.
Over decades, Chowdhury has been there for those in need, during floods, for weddings or for jobs. In fact, he is popularly known as the ‘Nawab of Murshidabad’ and ‘Robinhood of Berhampore’ in the area because of his ‘friend of the poor’ image.
Chowdhury, a staunch critic of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has been the chief of the West Bengal Congress and was also the Minister of State for Railways during the UPA government from 2012 to 2014. Chowdhury has also been a member of the West Bengal assembly from 1996 to 1999.
Chowdhury’s first wife Arpita, who had joined TMC in 2016 after their divorce case started, died in January this year. Her brother Arit Majumdar is presently TMC’s Baharampur sub-divisional unit chief.