Kolkata, Feb 10 IANS | 10 months ago

Months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress Monday removed Pradip Bhattacharya as its West Bengal unit chief and appointed Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to the post.

Bhattacharya, appointed to head the state unit in June 2011, got the sack apparently for his failure to activate the organisation in the face of an onslaught by the state's ruling Trinamool Congress, which has been weaning away Congress legislators and other elected representatives in the municipal bodies and panchayats.

Last week, the Trinamool won a Rajya Sabha seat after two Congress lawmakers cross-voted in favour of the ruling party.

In contrast to the gentle-mannered Bhattacharya, Chowdhury is known for his combative abilities and organisational acumen.

Regarded as the "Murshidabad strongman" for retaining the Congress hold in his pocketborough of Murshidabad district despite the Trinamool's repeated attempts to strengthen its base there, Chowdhury said he would work out a plan of action in consultation with party leaders.

Chowdhury, MP from Baharampur in Murshidabad, is known for his antipathy to the Trinamool Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee.

He has time and again spoken out against any possible alliance with the Trinamool and advocated that the Congress fight the coming Lok Sabha elections on its own strength.

"I will discharge my duties to the best of my abilities. I can't tell the next step or programme in this short time," Chowdhury said on his arrival in the city.

Admitting that the Congress was going through tough times, he said: "I don't hold any magic wand...I can't do any magic. But we all have to work together to save the party."

He expressed his gratefulness to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, and said: "I will leave no stone unturned to fulfill their expectations."

Bhattacharya, on the other hand, welcomed Chowdhury's appointment and promised to cooperate with him.

He said the party high command took the decision after discussing the matter with him.

"I am very happy that Adhir has been appointed president. He will be more aggressive. Congress workers will be encouraged."

"I tried to do my best. But every person has his limitations. He is young and mentally very tough. The way he will organise a movement, that is not possible for me. He will be more acceptable to the workers," he said.

(Posted on 10-02-2014)

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