Kolkata: Congress has rewarded Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for keeping the party electorally alive in Bengal this Lok Sabha polls against an all-out drive by Trinamool to reduce it “into a signboard” and the surge of the BJP in the state’s political landscape.
Chowdhury, 63, has been appointed the leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha. He succeeds Mallikarjun Kharge, who lost this Lok Sabha polls.
This is even as K Suresh, working president of the Congress’ state unit in Kerala, where the party has won 15 Lok Sabha seats this time, was also in the consideration.
In contrast, Congress has won only two seats from Bengal, and one of these is Behrampore that has re-elected Chowdhury for five-time in a row.
Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, held a meeting with Chowdhury and a few other senior leaders of the party in her residence today 18 June morning.
Subsequent to this, she sent a letter to the Lok Sabha secretariat intimating that the party has chosen Chowdhury as its leader in the lower house.
Prior to Chowdhury, Pranab Mukherjee is the only one from Bengal who had functioned as the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
As the proceedings of the second day of the Budget Session began, Chowdhury occupied a front row seat in the Opposition bench. Congress has 52 MPs in this Lok Sabha.
On his appointment as the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Chowdhury said that he will continue to fight as a foot soldier of the party.
“I have been given this responsibility. I was asked to stand in the front. I said okay. I am a foot soldier and foot soldiers stand in the front. So I will fight as a foot soldier,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
On Sunday, 16 June, Chowdhury, along with K Suresh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, had represented Congress in an all-party meeting hosted by the government ahead of the Budget Session.
In the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi patted Chowdhury and referred to him as a “great fighter”. This was understandably for his wing from Behrampore seat against the Trinamool and the BJP.
During the recent strike by junior doctors in Bengal, Chowdhury wrote to the PM seeking his intervention to end the impasse. This came amidst speculations for the last several months that he is warming up to the BJP.