In what is being seen as a breach in the last remaining Congress bastion in West Bengal, Mausam Benazir Noor, niece of former Union minister, late A B A Gani Khan Chowdhury, and two-time MP from Malda Uttar Lok Sabha constituency, joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday.
Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee announced that Noor will be the TMC candidate from the same constituency in the upcoming General Election and campaign for the party in all districts of North Bengal.
Malda has sent a Congress member to Lok Sabha ever since Khan Chowdhury first got elected in 1980 – he continued until 2004, after which his brother Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and niece Mausam Noor, became Congress MPs from the two seats in Malda.
Noor, 39, met Banerjee at Nabanna, the state Secretariat, on Monday evening and announced her decision to join TMC.
Subhendu Adhikari, MP and TMC’s Malda in-charge, who was also present, told the media, “She will formally join TMC on January 30 at a public meeting in North Bengal. She will also campaign in North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad (districts).”
Noor said, “The people of Bengal want Mamata Banerjee – there is no denying that fact. I intend to work for people following the footsteps of Mamata Banerjee. Everyone in Bengal know she symbolises development and secularism.”
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“She will be our candidate (Lok Sabha) from Malda (North). Apart from other areas, she will campaign in districts of North Bengal like Murshidabad and others,” said Mamata Banerjee speaking with media persons at Nabanna.
Watch | Congress MP from West Bengal Mausam Benazir Noor joins TMC, says, she will now work under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. pic.twitter.com/Ml7M0ciOrH
Both Noor and his uncle Abu Hasem, the Lok Sabha MP from Malda Dakshin, were vociferous in seeking a Congress alliance with TMC for the Lok Sabha polls even though the party’s state unit was opposed to having any truck with the ruling party.
State Congress leaders said they were not entirely surprised by Noor’s decision.
Move may open doors for TMC in Malda, Murshidabad
An apprehension about keeping the Khan Chowdhury fortress intact in Malda, given the Congress’s depleting organisational strength in the state and chances of voter polarisation along communal lines may have prompted Mausam Noor to move towards TMC. The TMC now expects to do well not only in Malda or neighbouring Murshidabad, but also in Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur districts. Despite winning seats in local body polls in Malda and Murshidabad, TMC is yet to do well in Lok Sabha polls in these districts.
Calling Noor’s “personal decision” to join TMC “most unfortunate”, Gaurav Gogoi, Congress MP and the party’s Bengal in-charge, said, “This action of TMC is only helping BJP, with Amit Shah having recently held a rally in Malda. On one hand TMC holds united rally of the Opposition, on the other it poaches on Congress MPs. The TMC is wrong to think it has weakened the Congress. We are confident of doing well in Lok Sabha elections and win that seat.”
Former state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said, “We had been hearing that she was about to join the TMC. (But) whenever we asked her, she denied it. It is her decision. What can we say? But local TMC workers will not accept this.”