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My last week in Congress, says Manas Bhunia


Congress MLA from Sabang, Manas Bhunia is likely to change his political allegiance next week. "Maybe this is my last week in Congress." Bhunia said on Saturday.

“It is no longer possible for me to continue in the Congress given the style of functioning of the state leadership led by Adhir Chowdhury and Abdul Mannan,” Bhunia, the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said. ‘There is little possibility of the state Congress emerging from its moribund state in a decade,” the PAC chairman said. “Why should I be in political wilderness?” he asked.

“I do not want to say anything about Manas Bhunia,” PCC chief Adhir Chowdhury said, when contacted. “His comments do not merit a reply,” he said.

Bhunia fired broadsides during the day at AICC general secretary, CP Joshi’s inability to end the intra-party feud. ”It was this AICC leader who was also in charge of Arunachal Pradesh and party has been routed there overnight,” he said.

“The adamant attitude of the state Congress leadership over the decades had cost the party dearly,” the Sabang legislator said. While Ajay Mukherjee had been ignominously expelled from the party in 1966, the expulsion of Mamata Banerjee in 1997 led to the formation of Trinamool Congress whose electoral performance has put the existence of the state Congress at stake," he said.

While Bhunia has not announced that he will join Trinamool, he said during the day that he will join neither CPI-M nor BJP. The former PCC chief was a member of the first Mamata Banerjee Cabinet.

Though he had resigned after Trinamool withdrew support from UPA II, the Congress leader has never sharply criticised the chief minister. While his brother Bikas Bhunia has already joined Trinamool, which some Congress leaders said was an endeavour to clear the way for his elder brother, Bhunia had not endeared himself to his party colleagues after he described Banerjee in her second tenure as the "best chief minister in the country".

The roots of in-house squabble in the state Congress can be traced to the months before the state Assembly election was held in the state when Bhunia, a former PCC chief, had strongly opposed an alliance with the Left Front in the Assembly elections. “The alliance,” he had said, “will not go down well with Congress workers who had to face the atrocities of the Left Front activists, especially those belonging to the CPI-M, during the 34 years of the Left Front regime.

Moreover, Bhunia had accused the PCC chief Chowdhury of keeping the electoral interest of only Murshidabad in mind as he hails from this district. But his go-it-alone policy was not approved by the AICC and he had to campaign in favour of Front nominees including the then Leader of the Opposition, Surjakanta Mishra, in Narayangarh.

The intra-party differences which snowballed into a situation that has almost triggered Bhunia&’s jumping ship surfaced after state Assembly Speaker, Biman Banerjee announced the Sabang MLA’s name as PAC chairman. Both PCC chief Adhir Chowdhury and CLP leader Abdul Mannan had asked Bhunia to withdraw from contention as the Congress and Left Front leadership have jointly decided on CPI-M MLA Suajan Chakrbaorty’s candidature for this post.

With Bhunia defying his party leadership on this issue, the latter hardened their stance against him. Things came to such a pass that Leader of the Opposition Mannan announced Bhunia’s suspension from the CLP and further said that the party MLAs would boycott him.