It is being billed as the ‘biggest political switch’ in recent times and perhaps a “death knell” for the Congress party in Malda, a district so far considered as the legendary Congress leader the late ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury’s bastion.
The switch by the district Congress president and Choudhury’s niece, Mausam Benazir Noor, to the ruling Trinamul Congress in Kolkata Monday came as a shocker for many, while observers said claims made by TMC party observer for Malda and minister Subhendu Adhikari to “wipe out” the Congress from the district by taking in the biggest names under their belt may be coming true.
However, even as the district recovers from the shock, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and political observers here now see Ms Noor’s move as a “great political advantage” for the saffron brigade.
After a huge gathering of people in a meeting addressed here by the BJP national president, Amit Shah, only last week, Ms Noor’s decision has further strengthened a feeling among the people that the BJP has strong chances of winning the North Malda seat for the first time, observers say, adding, however, that there still are other factors in the way to victory for the saffron party.
“The backdrop for this historical decision by Ms Noor is considered to be the TMC’s encroachment on the Muslim votes here, which had been always in favour of the Congress, rather in favour of the Ghani Khan myth working safely for the party.
In the aftermath of the panchayat elections in Malda, the BJP gained the second position, pushing down Congress to the third, and this led to Mausam Noor sensing disaster. Perhaps the process of switching sides started ever since, as Mr Adhikari started making claims soon afterwards,” a political observer said.
It may be recalled that the brother of the late Ghani Khan, Abu Naser Khan Choudhury, who was the first in the family to switch to the TMC, had been branded a ‘traitor’ by the two MPs of Malda, Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury and Mausam Noor. Now, it was the district general secretary of the Congress, Kali Sadhan Roy’s turn to brand Ms Noor with the same epithet.
“Mausam is a traitor after boarding the TMC ship to retain her MP seat, power and position, but her dreams will not be fulfilled,” Mr Roy said.
Political observers said BJP will gain most in this situation, “as Ms Noor has turned herself into an enemy of the Congress, CPI-M, BJP and also those people in the district who have been loyal to the Ghani Khan family and worked as a vote bank for the Congress.”
“The undercurrent flowing in support of the BJP and the possible sabotage by TMC factions which are now overshadowed with her induction in the party, may work wonders for the saffron brigade,” said another observer.
Again, if the Congress decides to field a strong contestant from the Muslim community against Ms Noor (already declared the TMC candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections for North Malda seat by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee Monday evening), the minority votes may be divided between the two, and the BJP may easily cruise to its first big victory in Malda, the observers added.
“Mausam’s decision has nailed the Congress in Malda and this has been the scenario all over the country now. She can never be an MP from Malda again and obviously it gave us a big advantage,” the state secretary of the BJP, Biswapriya Roychoudhury, said over telephone.
However, for the time being, the Congress has to decide on many other things like appointing a new district president, and looking for a candidate for the North Malda seat.