New Delhi: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who has been inducted into the Union Council as Minister of State for Railways, on Monday announced that he would resign if criminal charges are proved against him.
Talking to CNN-IBN, the newly-appointed minister threw an open challenge to the Trinamool Congress, saying that if the ruling West Bengal government finds a single criminal case pending against him, he would resign.
The 56-year-old Congress strongman from the party bastion of Murshidabad district in West Bengal had faced murder charges in 2005 in a case related to murder of two restaurant owners. However, he was cleared of all the charges in 2007.
Interestingly, the newly-appointed minister is out on bail in another murder case of a Gram Panchayan leader in Burdwan.
According to an affidavit submitted by Choudhury before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he has one criminal case pending against him in court.
Choudhury is considered one of the few party leaders with a mass base in West Bengal.
A school dropout, Choudhury took on the erstwhile ruling Left Front using his organisational skills, and countered the rivals` muscle power in like manner to turn the once red citadel of Murshidabad into a Congress stronghold.
It was Choudhury who persuaded Pranab Mukherjee (now India`s President) to contest the Lok Sabha election from Jangipur in 2004 and 2009 and ensured his victory both times.
Now serving his third consecutive Lok Sabha term from Baharampur after triumphing in 1996 from the Nabagram Assembly seat, Choudhury has been a sharp critic of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
His elevation to the Union ministry could be linked to the party high command`s bid to counter Banerjee after the Congress`s divorce with the Trinamool and to strengthen the party organisation in the state.