Bipin Vohra, the Congress candidate for the Burdwan-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat opted from contesting in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. Industrialist Bipin Vohra, the owner of a Rs 4,000-crore SPS Group was named the Congress candidate from the Bardghaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha constituency along with two others from Bengal in the last of the Congress’s Lok Sabha poll lists, released a week ago.
Vohra, 52 said news agencies: “I will not contest the Burdwan-Durgapur seat as a Congress nominee. There has been considerable opposition from within my family. I told Adhirda (state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury) about my wife’s and two married daughters’ reservations about me joining the electoral fray.” Vohra also cited the reason of his wife’s sudden sickness for leaving the political fray.
State Congress President Adhir Chowdhury alleged that Vohra quit the fray because of “pressure” from the Trinamul establishment. “How can a businessman defy pressure from the government? He was being threatened by the ruling party, so he decided against contesting the elections,” Chowdhury said.
Vohra, however, ruled out the allegation of threats and said he had good relations with all political parties. He pleaded: “I have not received any threats from anyone and I am surprised to learn about the so-called threats. I have many close friends in the Trinamool Congress and the CPI (M).”
He said he has known Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee since he was young and even not married. He said the former chief minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, is a “family member”, which Mr Bhattacharjee had made public during the inauguration of his secondary steel plant in Durgapur in 2001.
Most significantly all the ventures of SPS Group under Mr Vohra started during the former Left Front rule in Bengal. The group is also setting up 1.2 MT pellet plant, a 1.7 MT iron ore fines beneficiation unit, a 0.5 MT coke oven and a 110 MW captive power plant at Mejia in Bankura adjacent to Durgapur.
Besides, a bunch of senior Trinamool Congress leaders and ministers like Mr Madan Mitra and Mr Partha Chatterjee are among his “close friends” and his candidature had raised eye-brows of such leaders.
Mr Vohra is a frequent visitor to the house of Durgapur Mayor, Mr Apurba Mukherjee, and in a number of public functions, the Mayor’s wife, Mrs Anindita Mukherjee, was heard describing Mr Vohra him as “amar Bipin bhai (My brother Bipin).”
Meanwhile, there had been a sense of reservation amongst district Congress leader after Bipin Vohra was named the Congress candidate from Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha Constituency. Many Congress leaders said that Mr Vohra was hand in glove with both the CPI (M) and the Trinamool Congress. They would not have accepted him as their candidate.
A section of Congress leaders demanded that MP Pradip Bhattacharya contest the Burdwan-Durgapur seat. Bhattacharya, who has refused to contest citing age and organisational responsibilities, said today: “I have been assigned a bigger responsibility of steering the campaign.”
According to the Congress sources now the party is considering three names and speculations are high about Mr Dibyendu Banerjee, an industrial worker in Durgapur; Mr Azizul Mondal, a lawyer in Burdwan; and Mr Pradip Agasty, an engineering college owner in Panagarh as the candidate for the seat.
When all the other political parties has embarked on massive campaigning in Durgapur and surroundings for the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll, Congress is finding it difficult to find a suitable candidate even. It undoubtedly speaks of the sorry state of affairs for Congress in the state.