Interview: Mamata Banerjee Has Played The Role for BJP’s Promotion in West Bengal: Congress Leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
An exclusive conversation with the Congress candidate from Behrampore Lok Sabha seat.
Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is eyeing a fifth term as Behrampore goes to polls in the fourth phase on April 29. Chowdhury is fighting against his former aide Apurba Sarkar — a former Congress MLA — who has been nominated by the Trinamool Congress. Chowdhury has been a vocal critic of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
During the campaign, Banerjee has also attacked the four-time MP saying that the RSS is supporting him and Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee. In an exclusive interview with NewsCentral24x7, Chowdhury spoke on an array of issues, including the rise of the BJP in West Bengal, poll-related violence and defections from the Congress party to Trinamool.
Edited excerpts of NewsCentral24x7’s conversation with Chowdhury:
NewsCentral24x7: It is widely speculated that West Bengal would be for the BJP in 2019, what Uttar Pradesh was for the party in 2014. The saffron party is targeting to win at least 10 seats in the state. Your comments.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: I think BJP has been gaining ground in West Bengal. There is no dispute regarding this. But, it should not be interpreted as they would reach double-digits. I do not know how many seats they will be able to win. They are gaining ground only by default, not by any design. Default, here, means that since Mamata Banerjee assumed power in West Bengal, she started to deliberately decimate all opposition parties except the BJP. Secular forces, under the Left parties or the Congress party, which occupied a little space here in West Bengal, started shrinking due to this, which created a vacuum.
So, taking advantage of this vacuum, the BJP has been creeping in. Basically, Mamata Banerjee has played the role for promotion of the BJP. Now she has been alleging, accusing or appears to be fighting against the BJP, but it is Mamata Banerjee under whose rule the BJP has been thriving in West Bengal at the cost of Congress and CPI(M). Out of desperation, the affected persons, the persecuted persons, they have started thinking that the BJP could be their saviour.
NewsCentral24x7: Across West Bengal, several incidents of violence have taken place in the first three phases of polling. What steps are the Congress party taking to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the other phases?
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: We have been flagging them to the Election Commission persistently in order to ensure free and fair elections. I am very much optimistic that the EC will take all measures to ensure free and fair elections.
Yes, some sporadic incidents might have taken place, but it is the responsibility of the EC to take appropriate measures in order to save democracy in West Bengal which has been virtually threatened by the politics of violence, the politics of atrocities of the ruling regime.
NewsCentral24x7: Many of your close aides have joined the Trinamool. The person who is contesting against you, Apurba Sarkar, is also a former Congress member. In West Bengal, many such defections have taken place. How do you think it will impact the performance of the Congress party?
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: You are absolutely right, I told you earlier that since Mamata Banerjee has assumed power she has adopted the policy which may be called the carrot and stick policy — by inducing or by intimidating — Mamata Banerjee has been able to grab or snatch some of our MLAs and leaders. The police administration has been playing second fiddle to the ruling regime.
At the same time, the fact is that the void left by those deserted or defected personalities or leaders, was very quickly filled up by the new generation of Congress workers who have still not got the prominence that is required for a party worker. But, the reality will be tested in the coming general elections in Murshidabad and I can assure you that now, Trinamool party is in the erosion mood — day in and day out — the ruling party has been bleeding by the desertion of Trinamool workers, who are joining Congress party every day across the district (Murshidabad).
NewsCentral24x7: A few incidents of violence were reported from Murshidabad as well. Earlier this year, two Trinamool workers were also reportedly killed and the AITC has blamed you as you are a prominent Congress leader in the area. What do you have to say about these charges?
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: Trinamool will resort to all sort of heinous activities and all kinds of nefarious designs in order to foil the political, democratic and electoral process in the state in general, and Murshidabad in particular. Mamata Banerjee has been attacking me by raising irrelevant and non-political issues which also indicates that she has been suffering from political bankruptcy. We know and understand each and every trick of the ruling regime and we will deal with it.
NewsCentral24x7: The Trinamool and the Congress party are fighting a bitter battle in West Bengal. After the elections, if there is a fractured mandate, the Congress party might have to align with Trinamool.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: That God knows, but Mamata Banerjee has already stated that Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will form the government. Whatever be the consequences in West Bengal, our principal adversary is Trinamool. In Bengal, the Congress party can be termed as a persecuted tribe, so we cannot make any understanding as far as any understanding is concerned with respect to Mamata Banerjee.
NewsCentral24x7: You wanted the CPI(M) and Congress alliance in West Bengal which didn’t happen. They are supporting you in your constituency. Do you still think that forming an alliance was a better option?
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: See, it would have been better had the alliance been formed between the Congress and the CPI(M). Because again I’m saying that at least Congress and the CPI (M) have been occupying the secular forces against all odds. So, in order to strengthen and consolidate the secular forces, these two parties should be aligned together but it is unfortunate that it has not taken place. But, I am not here to point at anybody’s fault, either CPI(M) or the Congress party. It is just an unfortunate thing for me.