Days after a group of 23 disgruntled Congress leaders (called G-23) met in Jammu to express their dissatisfaction with the party leadership, Congress Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the rebels of having “already extracted their own pound of flesh” and hobnobbing with BJP “in search of greener pastures”.
Chowdhury’s comments came after Anand Sharma, a Congress leader and a member of G-23, accused him of spoiling the party’s secular image by tying up with Indian Secular Front (ISF), a communal group, for the Bengal election. The 68-year-old former Union minister tweeted: “Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement West Bengal PCC President is painful and shameful, he must clarify.”
Chowdhury told NDTV that Congressmen who are accusing the party of abandoning secularism are those who “have already extracted their own pound of flesh”. The Bengal Congress chief took on Sharma by describing his G-23 cohort as “leaders, who over the decades, have enjoyed the power of the Congress party”. Now that the party is reduced to a far more modest standing, he said, “they think the Congress does not have resources to offer them…so that is why they are castigating the Congress.”
The Congress, which has an alliance with the Left parties in Bengal, is now a part of the grand alliance which also includes cleric Abbas Siddiqui, who is the chief cleric of Bengal’s Furfura Sharif, a revered and powerful Muslim shrine.
The G-23 believes Chowdhury should have refused the alliance with Siddiqui and his Indian Secular Front.
In response, Chowdhury accused the Congress rebels of looking for greener pastures. “They thought to appease the party who may offer something for their bright future,” he told NDTV on Tuesday (March 2).
After Ghulam Nabi Azad’s praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chowdhury had accused the G-23 of looking at ways to defect to the BJP.
The eight-phase assembly elections in West Bengal begin March 27. The results will be announced on May 2.