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WB polls: Cong dissidents refuse to withdraw
Six-time Cong legislator R P Ram said he is in the party since 1962 and nobody can drive him out.
Kolkata: Defying Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee's warning of expulsion, two party MLAs, who decided to contest the assembly election as Independents after being denied tickets, on Monday said under no circumstances they would withdraw from the fray.
Challenging the Congress threat of a six-year expulsion for contesting official party candidates or any nominee of the Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance, six-time Congress legislator Ram Piyare Ram said, "I won't mind if any action is taken against me for contesting as an Independent."
"Since 1962 I am in the Congress and nobody can drive me out of the party. My voters in Kavitirtha constituency want me to contest and I will contest to win the election," Ram told PTI.
Ram said he had taken the decision only after gross injustice was done to him in denying nomination from the constituency which had returned him to the assembly for the sixth time.
"Voters in my constituency are very much sympathetic towards me and my party Congress. But this time the situation has changed and I have been denied ticket due to mysterious circumstances," he said.
Ram expressed his firmness to contest the seat as an Independent candidate, asserting that under no circumstances he would withdraw.
In a bid to stem dissent in the Congress ranks after finalising seat-sharing with Trinamool Congress, Mukherjee on Sunday warned rebels contesting as Independents against official nominees of a six-year expulsion from the party as per the party constitution.
He pointed out there was no need for forming any disciplinary committee to deal with them. Those who would be contesting the election against official Congress nominees and against nominees of the alliance partner would get expelled for six years.
He said the PCC president had been vested with adequate power in this regard and would wait till the last day of withdrawal of nominations in the concerned seats.
Another dissident Congress MLA Abdul Khaleq Mollah, who said he would file nomination from Metiabruz constituency and dared the party leadership to take any action against him, refused to withdraw from the contest.
"I have read in newspapers that Pranabbabu has threatened to expel for six years anyone who will contest against official candidates. Pranabbabu himself had left Congress once, but I never did," Mollah said.
He went to say, "Pranabbabu has even ensured nomination for his son, but sincere Congress workers like me have been left out despite serving the party for over 50 years. This is the irony."
Stating he would file nomination papers within two to three days in the Metiabruz constituency as an Independent candidate, Mollah claimed that he had been receiving 'wide support' from the Congress, NCP and smaller parties in the constituency.
Mollah dared the high command to take action against him for fighting the official candidate and said, "Voters in my area have been insisting that I should contest and I am sure I will win the seat."
He also took a swipe at Pranab Mukherjee for his statement that nobody could claim that to obtain a ticket is one's birthright. "It is for the party to decide."
Mukherjee's warning of expulsion from the party came at a time when Congress rebels had already filed nominations as Independents in some of the constituencies in north Bengal where the first phase poll would be held on April 18 for 54 seats.
Resenting nomination of alliance candidates, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury, MP (Murshidabad), has already announced his support for rebel candidates.
Mukherjee's warning has sent messages to those encouraging rebel candidates too. They include Deepa Dasmunshi, MP (Raiganj), Shankar Singh, Nadia district Congress chief, besides Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury, who happens to be close to Pranab Mukherjee himself.
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