The Congress party is flexing its muscles hard ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The grand old party on Friday rejigged its West Bengal unit by appointing its old warhorse Somen Mitra as the new president in the state. He replaces Adhir Chowdhury who has been shifted to a different role. Choudhary will now head the party’s state campaign committee.
Mitra’s appointment as the president of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee assumes significance as it comes just a few months before the general elections. Mitra had served as the president of the Congress party in West Bengal before he quit it to join the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee during Singur agitation when the Left Front was in the power. He, however, quit the TMC in January 2014 and returned to the Congress-fold.
Besides Mitra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also appointed four working presidents of the party’s West Bengal unit. They are Sankar Malakar, Nepal Mahato, Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and Deepa Dasmunsi.
At present, the Congress party has no strong foothold in the state and with this reshuffle, the Congress leadership expects to regain its hold in the state. The Congress has only 4 MPs in the Lok Sabha out of 42 lawmakers in the state. Thought the party had entered into an informal understanding with the Left during the previous assembly polls, the party failed to improve its tally. The party has only 42 MLAs in 294 chairs House.
Speaking about the possibility of an alliance between the Congress and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal for the 2019 general elections, Mitra said that he feels there is need to maintain a distance from TMC leaders whom he accused of trying to destroy the party in the state. Mitra said that he has already conveyed his opinion to the party leadership on joining the ranks with the TMC. According to him, an alliance with the TMC may give a short-term benefit to the Congress but for long-term gain, “an understanding with the Left is desirable”.
“Congress is a national party and AICC’s decision is final in the question of an electoral alliance. As a state president, I cannot take a decision on it. But Trinamool is trying to destroy Congress in Bengal every day and I personally feel that unless we maintain a distance, it will not be possible to arrest Congress’s declining popularity here,” a Hindustan Times report quoted Mitra as saying.