Adhir Chowdhury is the name of a phenomenon. Two mighty Chief Ministers, Buddhadev Bhattacharya of the left Front and Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress (popularly TMC), pulled out all the stops to crush this political ‘upstart’.. But, defying a chakravyuh of the left parties, the 40-year old Adhir got elected to the assembly from Nabagram constituency in 1996. Three years later, in 1999, he took up a huge challenge by contesting from Baharampur lok Sabha constituency, then considered unwinnable by the Congress, and since remains unbeaten for five consecutive terms.
But the phenomenon called Adhir was not limited to individual success. By 2004, he almost decimated the left from the district, and helped Pranab Mukherjee to win his first Lok Sabha election from the adjacent Jangipur constituency. For the first time since independence, all the three seats of the district were bagged by the Congress that year. For the next ten years, it was Adhir-raj in the Muslim-dominated district. Since then, Mamata Banerjee, as a Chief Minister, played havoc with Congress organisation in the district. her relentless fusillades have succeeded to bring Jangipur and Murshidabad seats to TMC in 2019, but Chowdhury remains unbeaten in Baharampur, that too at a time when Bengal returned only two Congress MPs.
Adhir Chowdhury is a phenomena true, but a local phenomenon. his charisma is limited to his district and he leads just one of the groups of Bengal Congress, which as a whole is fighting hard to keep itself relevant in the state. Chowdhury is uncompromising, a maverick, but a little rustic too. He never hides the fact that he never attended a college. he is a smart fighter, but not a well-informed intellectual. It is rumoured that when Sonia Gandhi first asked him to lead the Congress in Lok Sabha, he politely refused it for he is well aware of his limitations. But when it was thrust on him, he accepted it with humility, for he is not a shirker. The national leadership of the Congress never mentored him to be a national player. he was inducted in the government of Manmohan Singh only in October of 2012, that too just as a minister of state. It is true that his faux pas as the leader of the party in Lok Sabha on Kashmir (that it is not India’s internal matter) will be remembered as one of the greatest blunders of the Congress party. But the blame lies not on him, but on those who made him the leader. If suddenly one fine morning someone entirely unprepared is asked to play the lead, he is bound to falter.
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