Thursday, December 16, 2010

Congress to boycott railway show

BEHRAMPORE: The Murshidabad district Congress has decided to boycott Wednesday's railway programme in Sagardighi. The decision was taken on Tuesday, a day after a heated exchange between district Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury and Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee over a perceived snub to the former after he was reportedly not invited to the programme.

The high-profile railway programme, in Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's Jangipur constituency, had been billed as a cementing of the Congress-Trinamool Mahajot. Under the circumstances, Tuesday's decision by the district Congress is a rather strong statement, especially in the run-up to the 2011 assembly polls.

"Congress will boycott Wednesday's Sagardighi programme," said district Congress spokesman Ashoke Das on Tuesday. "Kalyan Banerjee", he said, "has used filthy language against Adhir Chowdhury, who is widely known as Bengal's foremost and best anti-Left leader. Banerjee has attacked the very person because of whom opposition leaders are inspired to fight the Left Front. The people of Murshidabad and the district Congress will not allow this and we will boycott the programme".

Though Chowdhury did not announce the boycott himself, observers felt that it would have been quite impossible for Das to do so without tacit consent or instructions from the district Congress president.

On Monday, Chowdhury had announced his decision not only to skip the railway event, but also to organize a rail roko at Behrampore on Wednesday to protest the railways minister's "apathy" towards the district.

The district Congress strongman also had a personal grouse. "The railway authorities did not invite me. I am not going to attend the foundation stone ceremony at Sagardighi," he had said on Monday morning.

The rattled railway authorities responded by issuing an invitation through the Howrah divisional railway manager (DRM), who put through a personal call to Chowdhury. But Chowdhury had put his foot down. "The DRM Howrah called me in the evening after I aired my views but I declined his request to attend the programme. I think it's a dishonour to an MP," Chowdhury had said.

This prompted Kalyan Banerjee to take a pot shot at Chowdhury. "He is angry because the DRM invited him, and not the GM (general manager). To get the GM to invite him, he would have to contact Sonia Gandhi and become a minister. Why doesn't he join hands with CPM and fight the election?"

Though Chowdhury announced a rail roko on Wednesday morning near Behrampore Court station, demanding a railway overbridge, he did not forget to inaugurate the Kamada Kinkar Mukhopadhyaya Football tournament in the Behrampore zone, in memory of the finance minister's father, at Behrampore Square field on Tuesday morning.

District Trinamool president Subrata Saha said: "It is quite clear that Mamata Banerjee is trying to develop the backward Murshidabad district through her ministry. We are sure people are conscious that Chowdhury is resisting such development works. What does he expect? Congress is fearing losing ground here."


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