Somen Mitra to head Congress in Bengal

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Kolkata, Sep 21 (IANS) The Congress on Friday appointed Somen Mitra as President of its West Bengal unit, replacing Adhir Ranajan Chowdhury who was bitterly anti-Trinamool Congress and pro-Left. Chowdhury will be the Chairman of the campaign committee.

Immediately after the announcement, Mitra said he would work to strengthen the party infrastructure in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“If we fail to strengthen the party infrastructure, we will not be able to get people’s support. Therefore, my first aim will be to strengthen the party in Bengal. We need collaborative cooperation by party leaders, activists and general people to achieve that goal,” he said.

Mitra refused to say whether his party would join hands with the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress to counter the rising clout of the Bharaitya Janata Party in the state.

“We cannot take a decision on that. Congress is a national party. So decisions taken by the state units do not have any value. If the party asks us, we will convey our opinion,” he said.

“I will talk to co-workers and party leaders and then take the call on this issue.”

Chowdhury had repeatedly claimed that he does not have any political understanding with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and argued in favour of an alliance with the Left in 2019.

Besides the appointments of Mitra and Chowdhury, Congress President Rahul Gandhi also named Pradip Bhattacharya as the Chairman of the Coordination Committee.

Shankar Malakar, Nepal Mahato and Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury have been named as Working Presidents.

A former Lok Sabha member, Mitra in 2008 quit the Congress to float his own party, Pragatisheel Indira Congress, which he merged with the Trinamool in 2009. He rejoined the Congress in 2014.

There have been reports of infighting within the Bengal Congress for some time, with several state party members writing to the central leadership seeking Chowdhury’s removal to revive the Congress in the state.

–IANS

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