Following Rahul Gandhi’s refusal to lead the Congress in Lok Sabha, Berhampur MP and Congress state president for West Bengal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has been appointed by the party as the Congress Leader for Lok Sabha. He will succeed the outgoing Congress leader for Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, whose spree of successive victories was halted by Umesh Jadhav in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
The election of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has surprised many since stalwarts like Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, and K Suresh were in the race for the same. However, anyone with a flair for politics on a simple analysis would understand that the appointment of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is a well crafted political move on the part of Congress with an eye on the upcoming Bengal legislative assembly elections, to be held in 2021.
For those unaware, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is the state head of Congress party in Bengal. He has been the MP of Berhampore for consistently two straight decades, ever since he won his first election in the 1999 general elections, defeating his nearest rival, the sitting MP Pramothesh Mukherjee of the Revolutionary Socialist Party by a significant margin of 95,391 votes. Since then, he has never looked back.
Moreover, Adhir Ranjan is well known for his groundwork in the state of West Bengal and had almost revived the sagging fortunes of Congress in the 2003 local body polls of West Bengal, where under his leadership, had registered victory in the polls. It comes as no surprise if he has been chosen as the Leader of Lok Sabha for the current term by the Congress party.
One of the main reasons why Congress has been losing elections after elections is due to the fact that they lacked credible leadership on either the regional or the local level. Be it Assam, or Uttar Pradesh, or even states like Gujarat, Telangana etc., Congress failed to get the status of the principal opposition, forget making claim to the government, thanks to the lack of credible leadership. With the emergence of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the party might get a solution to this persistent problem in West Bengal.
With context to West Bengal, Congress is more of an outsider right now, even if just on paper. However, given the drubbing it received in most of the states, it was more of a welcome surprise for Congress, when they managed to salvage 2 seats in the state during the current Lok Sabha elections. It was under the leadership of the same Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury that Congress managed to salvage some pride in the Lok Sabha elections. The unexpected win has shown the party a hope that there’s some hope for the revival of Congress in West Bengal, that it is still in fight.
As of now, the communist influenced CPI [M] has already lost ground and the current battle is between the two polar opposite parties, i.e. the All India Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party. While BJP is making inroads in the state, increasing their popularity by leaps and bounds, Mamata is not only losing her grip over the state, but is also going to extreme lengths in order to regain her authoritarian control over the state of West Bengal.
This comes as good news for the Congress party, which aims to make a dent on the principal vote bank of TMC, i.e. the Muslim community of West Bengal. With TMC weakening in Bengal with each passing moment, the Muslims would now be looking for a credible alternative, which can provide them with the political patronage they are used to. Since the Communists are nowhere in the picture, Congress becomes the default choice for the same.
Interestingly, Adhir Ranjan is the MP from Berhampore [Berhampur] constituency, with a population of more than 53 percent Muslims, as per the 2011 census. This, in itself, speaks volumes about his popularity amongst the Muslim community of the state, and as such, he comes out as the natural choice for resurrecting the Congress party in the state of West Bengal, which is out of power since 1977, when Jyoti Basu of CPI [M] wrested power from its hands.
As such, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury being elected as the leader of Congress for Lok Sabha is a calculated move by the party to raise his stature in national and state politics. Being at the forefront of national politics in Lok Sabha, his election as the party leader would give him the right exposure in order to establish his credibility as a mass leader in the state in time for the Bengal assembly elections in 2021. Moreover, this would give Congress a huge relief, who has been often criticized for their reluctance to promote credible regional leaders.
The resultant credibility of his leadership and his popularity, Congress hopes, would also help the party consolidate the erstwhile, disenchanted minority TMC voters in a better way and help Congress register a comeback in the state of West Bengal. Who knows if the state of Bengal can become the site for the resurrection of the Indian National Congress, and the party shall have only Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to thank for that.