In a major reshuffle, the Congress on Friday appointed Somendranath Mitra as the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president replacing Congress MP from Berhampur Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Chowdhury has been appointed as the chairman of the campaign committee.
Political analysts feel that Chowdhury has been removed for his anti-Mamata stand. He was known for taking an anti-Mamata stance. While Chowdhury had been pushing for an alliance with the Left Front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he raised questions each time the Congress central leadership joined hands with the Trinamool Congress.
When the matter of uncontested seats in the Bengal Panchayat polls reached the Supreme Court and Bengal Congress was a party to it, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had represented the state of West Bengal in the apex court. Chowdhury had openly criticised the move by the central leadership.
"I was not even informed by the central leadership about my removal. On six occasions I had personally told Rahul Gandhi that if he feels that the state leadership is not doing well, he may as well remove me. I'm not saddened by my removal but I only feel that I should have been informed. I have always stood my ground and will continue to do so," Chowdhury told Zee Media over the phone from Berhampur, Murshidabad.
However, rumours are also rife that Chowdhury is in touch with some senior leaders of the BJP.
Mitra was the chairperson of the Pradesh Congress Committee in Bengal during 1992 and 1998. During his tenure, Mamata Banerjee who was a part of Congress, quit the party and formed the Trinamool Congress. During the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, Congress managed to secure only one seat. Later, he quit the party following the party's loss in the state and went ahead with forming the Progressive Indira Congress in 2008.
In 2009, he joined the Trinamool Congress and contested the general elections on a Trinamool Congress ticket from the Diamond Harbour seat and won. In 2014, Somen Mitra returned to Congress after resigning from the post of TMC MP.
Political analysts also feel that it could be a strategy by the Congress central leadership to make way for a pre-poll alliance with the Trinamool Congress ahead of the 2019 polls as Mitra would take a softer stance on Mamata Banerjee.
However, Mitra after taking over as the PCC President on Friday said that the Congress must distance itself from the Trinamool Congress.