If reports are to be believed, the time has run out for senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as interim President Sonia Gandhi is all set to snatch the post of Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha from the Behrampur MP. Chowdhury was the state unit chief in the just concluded West Bengal Assembly elections and the sorry performance by the Congress might have fuelled the decision.
However, as is the case with most Congress decisions, Chowdhury is merely the sacrificial lamb as the party ignores the more obvious chinks in the armour. The problem with Congress resides in the upper echelons of the party where the Gandhi clan comfortably reside. The top brass of Congress is still in its Nehruvian hungover, and despite being thrashed and humiliated in nearly every alternate election, the party appears reluctant to clock in the long-overdue changes.
Chowdhury, who was the face of the Congress for the Bengal polls, soon after the debacle had said that the party “couldn’t afford to stay cocooned on social media but had to hit the street” and also actively aid in relief work for Covid-19 patients. The Gandhi family is particularly antsy toward any criticism that comes its way; thus, one can argue that Sonia Gandhi didn’t like the tone of Chowdhury’s assessment.
The move to remove Chowdhury, a fortnight before the Monsoon session is also being seen from the lens that Chowdhury was one of the few leaders that abhorred Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its supremo Mamata Banerjee. While the likes of Rahul Gandhi tiptoed around and did not outrightly attack Mamata during the election trail — the Congress leader remained defiant.
Insiders say that in the run-up to the assembly elections, Congress leaders including Abhishek Singhvi (MP from Bengal) and state leaders such as Pradip Bhattacharya (former Pradesh Congress Committee or PCC chief) favoured a tie-up between the Congress and the TMC but Chowdhury being the state leader, out rightly refused the proposal.
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According to an HT report, whenever West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, a five-time former MP, used to come to Parliament, leaders cutting across political lines would pay her a courtesy visit. Chowdhury, however, never turned up or met Banerjee. Hence, the relationship soured between the two parties.
With the post of Leader of Opposition lying vacant in the parliament as no party has the mandated number, Congress is looking to pool in its resources, along with other parties and mount a united front against BJP.
However, to do so, it inescapably needs the support of TMC and with Chowdhury in the middle, the chances of such equation leading to any fruition appeared bleak. Perhaps, the removal of Chowdhury is a move to placate TMC and rejoin the forces.
The youth and new generation of leaders (Read: Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot) in Congress are frowned upon and pushed back while old vanguards, living way past their shelf life are given promotions.
Ideology is an alien concept for the party which joins forces with the Left and Islamist parties at the drop of hat. Thus, Chowdhury, who was clear in his conscience of not siding with Mamata served as a dead weight and naturally, Sonia Gandhi has cut him off.