Kolkata: Veteran Congress leader Somen Mitra, 76, was on Friday appointed president of the party in West Bengal. He is replacing Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress MP from Murshidabad, who was pushing for a pre-poll alliance with the Left parties in the 2019 general elections.
Mitra, who had quit the Congress in 2008 and had, at one point, even joined Mamata Banerjee, had recently said that his party should join forces with the Trinamool Congress. On Friday, however, he said that the Congress needs to distance itself from the Trinamool Congress to turn things around, while admitting that his party’s support base had vastly eroded.
Though Chowdhury was ousted as president of the state unit of the Congress, he will continue to function as chairman of the campaign committee, the high command announced on Friday.
At a recent brain-storming session in Delhi with the Congress leadership, Chowdhury had said that his party should join hands with the Left parties to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Trinamool Congress. His successor Mitra, however, had suggested a different line—that the Congress and the Trinamool Congress should come together to take on the BJP.
Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, another MP who had backed Mitra, was on Friday appointed one of the four working presidents of the party in West Bengal. Deepa Dasmunshi, another Congress leader, was also appointed working president. She was in support of Chowdhury’s idea of forming an alliance with the Left parties.
Mitra was a legislator in West Bengal between 1972 and 1977 and between 1982 and 2009. He won the 2009 elections to the Lok Sabha as a Trinamool Congress candidate. He quit Banerjee’s party to return to the Congress in January 2014.