The dissent in Congress ranks ahead of the West Bengal assembly polls has worsened in several districts over the alliance with the Trinamool Congress and selection of party candidates with Congress rebels filing nominations as independents in some places.
Many Congress leaders have been left out this time with the TMC leaving merely 65 of the total 294 seats to the ally for the six phase elections, which begin on April 18. With the release last Friday of the Congress candidates' list by the party high command, the voices of dissent within the local leadership of the party have grown louder.
Congress rebels have already filed nominations as independents in certain constituencies with the last date of filing of nominations for the 54 seats in North Bengal scheduled to end on Friday.
In North Dinajpur district where Congress member of Parliament Deepa Dasmunshi is unhappy over the seat-sharing deal with TMC, two rebel Congress leaders -- Chittaranjan Roy, a sitting Congress legislator and Hamidur Rahman, a former member of legislative assembly -- have filed nominations as independents against the TMC nominees protesting against the denial of tickets to them by the high command.
While Roy filed nomination at Hemtabad, which falls under the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat held by Deepa Dasmunshi, Rahman filed nomination at Chopra constituency. "The Congress leadership has ditched me. They gave me false hopes that I would be nominated from Hemtabad. But at the last moment, they denied me ticket and instead asked me to back the Trinamool candidate," Roy said.
Roy, who had won the adjoining Raiganj seat twice when it used to be reserved for Scheduled Castes, was not fielded as it has become a general constituency this time. Deepa, the wife of ailing Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, alleged that the Trinamool Congress was not campaigning for Congress candidates in five constituencies alloted to the party.
Some Congress leaders were also unwilling to accept their fate lying down. Some, including six-time member of legislative assembly Ram Pyare Ram have announced that they would contest on their own.
Senior Congress leader and member of Parliament from Berhampore, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, has indicated that the Murshidabad unit of the Congress may extend support to independent candidates in the four constituencies within the district where the TMC has been alloted 4 of the 22 seats.
He claimed, "This was to ensure the defeat of the Left Front as the Trinamool Congress candidates do not stand a chance."
In Nadia district, District Congress Committee president Shankar Singh alleged the alliance was not transparent. Congress workers were determined to contest all the 17 seats in the district, he said.
"Trinamool has only left one seat to the Congress." In Birbhum district, Congress leaders and workers expressed grudge over the nomination of party candidates from Saithia and Murarai constituencies. Vice-president of district Congress Biswajit Mukherjee has resigned to protest the nomination of TMC candidate and singer Parikhit Bala from the Saithia seat.
Mukherjee told mediapersons that he had sent his resignation to West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee Congress president Manas Bhunia on Monday. In Murarai, Congress workers threatened to field independent candidates.
The name of the son of the former Congress minister Motahar Hossain was proposed by a section of Congress workers. A block-level leader said, "In Murarai, Congress dominates and did very well in the last panchayat election. Most of the panchayats are ruled by Congress."
The TMC has fielded former justice of Kolkata High Court Nure Alam Chowdhury from this seat. In Howrah district, DCC president Kazi Abdul Rezzak openly denounced the alliance where the TMC which has left only one of the 16 seats to the ally.
In Malda district, thousands of Baishanabnagar Congress unit supporters joined by Trinamool Congress activists, burnt effigies of district Congress president and MP Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury to protest the nomination of his son Ishaque Khan.
When contacted, WBPCC president Manas Bhunia said, "We are trying to collect information from the districts. But I urge Congress leaders in the districts to abide by the decision taken by the high command to ally with the TMC to dislodge Communist Party of India-Marxist-led government from power."
The scenario is similar to the one in the 2001 elections when the Congress and the TMC fought unsuccessfully against the Left Front. Several Congress rebels had at that time contested as independents against the TMC which queered the pitch for the alliance between the two.