New Delhi: On Wednesday morning, a charged Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury stood up to address the newly appointed speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla. Not mincing words, Chowdhury hit out at Members of Parliament (MP) for trying to vitiate the secular nature of the House.
Chowdhury is the new leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, having replaced Mallikarjun Kharge. While Kharge had served as the Leader of the Congress party in the 16th Lok Sabha, he lost the recently concluded polls from his Gulbarga seat in Karnataka.
Chowdhury’s feisty statement in the lower house is emblematic of his career path in West Bengal politics. With the Congress having been routed in West Bengal, Chowdhury, a five-time MP from Berhampore, managed to stay in control of his constituency with a stunning margin of 80,000 votes despite the saffron surge in the state.
Today, Chowdhury is perhaps the only hope for the Congress to resurrect its fortunes in the state, as the party grapples with a crisis of leadership, especially following party president Rahul Gandhi losing his pocket borough Amethi.
Born on 2 April 1956 in Berhampore, Chowdhury started small. Imprisoned for having allegedly murdered a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Chowdhury conducted his political “rallies" from the confines of jail before winning as member of the West Bengal legislative assembly from the Nabagram constituency in 1996.
That proved to be a game changer. Three years later, in 1999, Chowdhury wrested control of the Berhampore seat from the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), a seat it had reigned on since 1951.
Since then, Chowdhury has not lost a single election from that seat. With the party staring at near-decimation in West Bengal, Chowdhury’s single-handed presence in West Bengal is testament of his connect with his constituency.
Later, rising through the ranks of the party, Chowdhury served as the chief of the Congress’ West Bengal unit from February 2014 to September 2018 and later as the minister of state (MoS) for railways in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II government.
Chowdhury did not respond to Mint's calls for comments.