The infighting in West Bengal Congress took a bizarre turn on Sunday, which happens to be the 147th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.
Senior leader and former president of West Bengal Pradesh Congers Committee (WBPCC) Pradip Bhattacharya walked out from a party programme without delivering his scheduled speech and many other senior leaders, including Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Abdul Mannan, weren’t even given the chance to speak at the event.
On Sunday, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was celebrated near the doorstep of a godown at Bidhan Bhavan, the state Congress headquarters, which irked some of the senior leaders among whom Bhattacharya is a prominent face.
Bhattacharya questioned the manner in which the event was observed and demanded the organisers why the Mahatma Gandhi statue wasn’t chosen for the programme. Most of the city and district leaders vented their spleen, saying it was unprecedented and intolerable.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Amitabha Chakrabarty got into a verbal spat with Bhattacharya in front of the other leaders and workers. Bhattacharya left the venue as the programme ended within five minutes of its beginning.
This comes at a time when the party is facing a crisis, as most of its bastions are now under the control of Trinamool Congress. A sizable portion of the leadership has joined Trinamool, alienating WBPCC president Adhir Chowdhury. Manas Bhunia is one such leader and MLA who recently joined TMC.
Murshidabad – a district considered to be a citadel of the Congress for years and a stronghold for Chowdhury – has been completely taken over by TMC. The entire organisational strength there shifted to the ruling party, as all municipalities and the Zilla Parishad came under Trinamool.
Bhunia, while commenting on Sunday’s incident, said: “It is really unfortunate. I feel pity about it. Imagine, who are running the party now,” adding that just like a “melting ice-cream” the party is almost finished in Bengal.
“This is a hurting, painful incident especially on the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation. Can I question, who are running the party in Bengal?” Bhunia asked.
It may be recalled that Bhunia, while joining TMC, had said that “Trinamool had become the real Congress as the party works for the poor and stands by the poor and needy.”
It is now believed in political circles that the face-off between two Congress leaders on ‘Gandhi Jayanti’ could further force more MLAs and Councillors to join Trinammol Congress.