From fighting father’s legacy to supping with the assailant – strange predicaments for Bengal’s turncoats

Kolkata, May 4 (IANS) Trinamool Congress candidate Udayan Guha faces a strange predicament.

After switching allegiance to West Bengal’s ruling party, from the All India Forward Bloc last year, Guha now finds himself locked in a fight between his father’s legacy and the popularity of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in the family’s borough — Dinhata.

Guha’s father and AIFB late stalwart Kamal Guha won the assembly seat in Cooch Behar district, no less than eight times. Naturally, Guha junior wanted to exploit his father’s local appeal, but that only attracted the displeasure of his new party.

Seeking to defend Dinhata, Udayan Guha had to take down flex and banners carrying his father’s pictures following objections from within the Trinamool where Banerjee is always highlighted as the face of the party, irrespective of the nominees’ stature.

In fact, campaigning across the state, the Trinamool supremo has repeatedly said she was the ‘nominee in all the 294 assembly seats’.

Further queering the pitch for Guha is the AIFB candidate Akshay Thakur who has now put up big cut outs and banners containing Kamal Guha’s pictures.

He is wooing the electorate by turning the Trinamool candidate as a “son who has not only betrayed his father’s political philosophy but also dishonoured him by dismantling his pictures”.

However, Guha puts up a brave front ahead of the polls to the constituency on Thursday.

“I will win by a big margin. People know that my father considered me as his political heir. And the development work by Mamata Banerjee is a big plus.”

But Guha is not the lone turncoat faced with such a dilemma.

Take the case of Marxist turned Trinamool candidate Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

In 2013, the then CPI-M legislator Mollah sustained multiple injuries in a severe physical attack allegedly orchestrated by Trinamool strongman Arabul Islam. He spent days in hospital and later Arabul was arrested and jailed.

But now contesting the polls from Bhangar in South 24 Parganas, Mollah had to accept bitter foe Arabul as his campaign manager.

Known for speaking his mind, Mollah couldn’t hide his emotions during the fifth phase of polls and accused Islam of Sabotage.

Left Front spearhead CPI-M’s decision to field former Trinamool leader Rafiqul Islam Mondal from Basirhat North also drew many a frown.

An accused in the murder of a Marxist leader, Mondala’s candidature incidentally was announced by CPI-M’s North 24 Parganas district secretary and former state minister Gautam Deb, against whom he had unsuccessfully contested the assembly polls from thrice — twice as a Trinamool nominee and once as a Congress aspirant.

The fielding of large number of defectors has been a salient feature of the ongoing Bengal assembly polls and the trend is visible across the political spectrum.

As the ruling party, the Trinamool has attracted the largest number of sitting legislators and prominent leaders from other parties to its fold over the past five years. Over a dozen of them are in the race this time.

An interesting Trinamool candidate is Nirbed Roy, who is fighting from Tamluk in East Midnapore district. An ex-Trinamool legislator from the same seat, Roy had quit the party and gone back to Congress years ago.

A familiar face in TV debates, the articulate Roy in recent years was known for tearing apart the Trinamool and particularly its supremo Banerjee.

The way he constantly trained his guns on Banerjee, made him a popular figure in drawing rooms across the state.

Many were bewildered when Roy crossed over to the Trinamool last year. As he now sings paeans to Banerjee, the opposition’s main weapon are the severe tongue lashings he gave the chief minister over the idiot box day in and day out.

Another prominent party deserter to Trinamool is Abu Nasar Khan Choudhury, younger brother of late Congress stalwart A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury.

He is defending Sujapur in Malda district which he had won in 2011 on a Congress ticket.

Among the several turncoats nominated by the Left Front-Congress alliance, a known name is Mahmud Hossain, a frontline leader of the Nandigram movement that played a big role in the ouster of the Left Front five years ago.

The former Trinamool leader is in the electoral battle on a Democratic Socialist Party (Prabodh Chandra) from Egra in East Midnapore district that goes to the hustings on Thursday.

(Anurag Dey can be contacted atanurag.d@ians.in)

–IANS

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