Congress leaders cross over to Trinamool in Bengal

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Kolkata, Aug 25 (IANS) Continuing the exodus from opposition parties to the Trinamool Congress, a host of Congress leaders and elected representatives switched over to West Bengal’s ruling party on Thursday.

Former state Congress president and ex minister Manas Bhunia also kept alive speculations that he would also cross over to the Trinamool, saying “it was difficult to say what will happen”.

Bhunia’s brother and West Midnapore district Congress president Bikash Bhunia joined the Trinamool along with seven busloads of Congress leaders, elected rural body representatives and activists from Sabong block.

A total of 23 members of the Sabong panchayat samiti also pitched their lot with the Trinamool, giving the latter a majority in the panchayat samiti (middle tier of the three-level panchayat or rural body system in Bengal).

One Zilla Parishad member in Sabong, who had won on Congress ticket, was also among those who was admitted to the Trinamool at its state party headquarters here.

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Bikash Bhunia said he had decided to cast his lot with the Trinamool to strengthen the hands of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and to ensure the massive development initiatives taken by the state government covered his block.

Manas Bhunia, who represents Sabong in the state assembly, blamed state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury for the desertions from the party ranks.

“I could not contact Bikash Bhunia or other leaders. But some workers told me that Chowdhury and the state Congress leadership had not cared to keep in touch with them as the Sabong workers ran from pillar to post and even could not stay in their houses,” he said.

Manas Bhunia was apparently referring to police making him, Bikash Bhunia and a number of other Congress leaders and workers accused in connection with the murder of a Trinamool worker Joydeb Jana at Sabang in April during the assembly polls. A court recently turned down their application for anticipatory bail.

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However, Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee, who welcomed the Congress leaders into the party fold, said the administrative and legal issues should not be confused with politics.

“The administration will chart its own course. Law will run its own course. We respect the court. If politically, some leaders wants to join Trinamool to be a partner in the development activities being carried out throughout Bengal, we welcome them. I cannot talk about administrative and legal matters.”

Manas Bhunia, now at loggerheads with the state Congress leadership over his continuance as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “I always regarded Congress as ‘ma’ (mother). I do the same till date. But the way things are moving, it is difficult to say what will happen”.

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State Congress president Chowdhury said the desertions from the Congress ranks in Sabong was a “foregone conclusion”.

“Everybody knew Bikash Bhunia will join Trinamool. Some other Bhunia may go. We are prepared. Anybody can go. It is always easy to enter or exit Congress.

“Everybody knew lot of leaders from Sabang will leave the party. If necessary, the Congress will begin from scratch in Bengal.”

Meanwhile, Trinamool wrested control of two other panchayat bodies by roping in Left Front and Congress representatives.

An All India Forward Bloc councillor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation – Shamima Khan – and another AIFB councillor from Siliguri Municipal Corporation – Durga Sinha – also joined the Trinamool.



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