Kolkata/New Delhi: In the Congress, if you dare to question the high command, you will be snubbed. That’s the message the party has given to its rank and file by replacing party MP and strong anti-Mamata Banerjee voice Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury with Somen Mitra, a leader of yesteryears with almost no sway among the cadre.

To rub it in, Chowdhury’s arch-rival Pradip Bhattacharya, another MP, has been appointed as the chairman of the coordination committee.

Deepa Dasmunsi, the widow of former union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, has been appointed as working president, too. What’s bizarre, while they had appointed a new Pradesh Congress President, they appointed as many as four working presidents as well.

The logic behind appointing Sankar Malakar, Nepal Mahato, Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and Deepa Dasmunsi as working presidents is twofold. One, to ensure the organisation continues to function in the absence of a president with a mass connect. Two, it ensures there is no rebellion within and everyone is kept happy.

Somen Mitra, who?

Mitra is an old Congress hand who was the PCC president from 1992 to 1998 — a period when there was no Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee was a subordinate of Somen Mitra. But Banerjee rebelled toward the fag end of his tenure and formed TMC.

In 2008, Mitra floated his new political party Forward Indira Congress, only to join Banerjee, once his subordinate, the next year. Mitra eventually quit the TMC. As PCC chief, he was the power centre that a much younger Banerjee had reservations about — precisely the reason the Trinamool Congress was floated. 

Decades later, when Mitra is politically insignificant, it betrays reason why the Congress would make him the PCC chief again — if not just to show Chowdhury his place.

Chowdhury has always had his views clear that he will not ally with Banerjee’s TMC, whom he considers his main political adversary as far as Bengal is concerned. But with the 2019 general election nearing, Rahul Gandhi called the entire Bengal unit of the Congress to his residence to ‘make them understand’ why the so-called Mahagathbandhan was the need of the hour.
Chowdhury stood by his stand that this alliance would deal a blow to the Congress’s existence in Bengal. Gandhi wanted to make an example out of him.

So what’s next for Chowdhury? Probably that’s less significant a question today than what’s next for Bengal Congress?