May 18, 2016 1:17:54 am
The exit polls may have forecast victory for the Trinamool Congress but at least two Congress leaders are vying for the West Bengal deputy CM’s post. Sources close to state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and former chief Manas Bhunia maintain their leaders should be considered for the post if the Left-Congress jot comes to power.
Bhunia was one of the last Congress leaders to join the Left-Congress bandwagon. In December, Bhunia had heaped praise on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. But by the time the jot was announced, Bhunia joined his arch rival, CPM’s Surjya Kanta Mishra, in a padyatra in the latter’s seat, Narayangarh.
Bhunia’s aides argue he is the “most obvious” candidate for the post of deputy CM, citing his past experience as minister of small and micro industries and textile, and minister of irrigation and waterways. “He was an MLA from 1982 to 1996 and then from 2001 to 2016. He has always worked hard for the party and the state and is an obvious candidate,” said a source close to Bhunia.
Chowdhury, who maintains that “posts aren’t important, forming the government is”, remains a strong favourite for the position of deputy CM.
Competition for Chowdhury and Bhunia comes from outside the Congress — CPM leader and Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya, who was, in fact, the first leader in the state to ally with the Congress. His was an experiment that came to be known as the “Siliguri model” and was the basis on which the current jot was created.
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