Kolkata, Apr 18, 2019 : Murshidabad district in West Bengal is turning into a political slugfest with an ugly personal twist. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has held at least four meetings in the district in the last three days, attacked Congress parliamentarian and its candidate from Berhampore, Adhir Chaudhury, saying, "He has not even acknowledged his first wife in his poll affidavit", NDTV reported.
"Why can he not acknowledge his late wife? What he is doing now is none of my business but why should his wife’s name not be in his affidavit? Isn’t it equal to suppressing facts?" Ms Banerjee said at a meeting in Kandi on Wednesday.
Mr Chaudhury hit back. "Mamata Banerjee has nothing left to say against me politically. So she has turned the fight into a personal one. Personal attacks will not help Trinamool in Murshidabad district," said Mr Chaudhury, a four-term parliamentarian from Berhampore and the minder of Murshidabad district for the Congress.
Like Malda district further north, Murshidabad has been resistant to Trinamool ingress in the last 15-20 years. Ms Banerjee has deployed one of her most able lieutenants, Subhendu Adhikari, to deliver the district that has three Lok Sabha seats, all traditionally held by the Congress.
Mr Adhikari met with some success in the panchayat elections last year and made inroads by chipping away at Mr Choudhury’s base among Congress workers, many of whom have joined the Trinamool. Its candidate against Mr Chaudhury is a former lieutenant of the Congress leader.
Mr Adhikari has promised to deliver seats in Murshidabad district this time, as Ms Banerjee has publicly and repeatedly told him to.
The Trinamool is also eyeing Jangipur from where Congress parliamentarian Abhijit Mukherjee, son of former President Pranab Mukherjee, is contesting. He won by a margin of 8,000 votes in the last election.
Ms Banerjee has been repeatedly jabbing the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to attack Mr Mukherjee as well as Mr Chaudhury. "Pranab Mukherjee went to the RSS headquarters and now RSS pracharaks (workers) are helping his son to try and win the election at Jangipur," said the Bengal chief minister. "The pracharaks are going around giving money to people. Beware of them," she added.
Mr Mukherjee has been unsparing, though his father and Ms Banerjee were close. "I don’t know where she is getting this RSS idea. Maybe he knows something I don’t. My party never joined a BJP government. She is the one who did," he said.
Observers see a pattern in the RSS label that Ms Banerjee is trying to stick on Mr Chaudhury and Mr Mukherjee. Murshidabad is a minority dominated district. The Trinamool has made inroads especially in the panchayat polls. Suggesting that these two Congress candidates have dealings with the right wing group could erode their vote bank.
The Murshidabad constituency is the third seat in the district. The Left won in 2014. This time the Congress was not supposed to field a candidate in that seat, according to a plan the two parties tried to work out, but finally the deal failed. So Murshidabad will see a four-cornered fight to the finish.