Saturday’s by-election in three Assembly seats in the state is being seen as an acid test for the ruling Trinamool Congress. For the first time since the the 2011 Assembly elections in the state, the Trinamool will be contesting the polls without being in alliance with the Congress.
With the Assembly seats going to bypolls falling in the Congress-dominated districts of Birbhum, Murshidabad and Malda, the Trinamool is pulling out all stops to take a sweet revenge on its estranged ally. Post the Trinamool’s exit from the Congress-lead UPA alliance last year after their tumultuous relationship, the ties between them has been deteriorating with every passing day.
Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has time and again claimed that her party came to power in the state on its own and that the Congress never contributed to its win despite being in an pre-poll alliance. So, this by-election has become a litmus test for Trinamool cadres to prove that their party leadership’s claim is true. “The bypoll is very important to us. But we know that the people are with Mamata Banerjee. So, we are relaxed,” said Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy.
In a bid to breach the Congress bastion, the Trinamool has placed its bet on disgruntled Congress leaders. All the three candidates — Krishnendu Chowdhury for Englishbazar, Humayun Kabir for Rejinagar and Biplab Ojha for Nalhati — left the Congress to join Trinamool soon after the party broke its alliance with the Congress. Both Krishnendu Chowdhury and Humayun Kabir were quickly made ministers to offset the influence of tall Congress leaders in the area — Ghani Khan Chowdhury in Malda and Adhir Chowdhury in Murshidabad.
During the campaigning too, Trinamool’s candidates have been vocal about their Congress association in a bid to divide the Congress vote. Krishnendu Chowdhury even installed billboards projecting himself as “Congress backed Trinamool candidate” thereby triggering a row.
On the other hand, Humayun Kabir, once a close aide of Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury, have been telling people of Rejinagar that he has been “backstabbed by his brother (Adhir)”. Adhir, now a Union minister, has also been aggressively campaigning in the area though he is not on the ballot paper. The reason he wants to see Kabir defeated. “In the campaign, I went on apologising to the people as in the last Assembly elections, I had requested them to vote for Kabir who