Congress candidates hit back at Mamata's RSS jibe

Kolkata (IANS) Hitting back at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for trying to link two of its candidates to the RSS, the Congress on Monday accused her of trying to sow the seed of suspicion among the minorities about the Congress, and reminded her of her past relations with the BJP.

"The West Bengal Chief Minister knows very well that there is no existence of the RSS in West Bengal. And people in Murshidabad also know this," said Congress' Baharampur candidate and sitting MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Addressing election meetings at Beldanga and Domkal of Murshidabad district, Banerjee had accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of helping and providing funds to Chowdhury and Congress' Jangipur candidate and incumbent MP Abhijit Mukherjee, son of former President Pranab Mukherjee.

Chowdhury took a dig at Banerjee for having called the RSS leaders "true patriots" at a programme organised by the organisation in Delhi years back.

"The Chief Minister regards the RSS as 'patriotic', because he had given this certificate to RSS in at a meeting in Delhi. She was an invitee in the RSS programme. So it was actually you who had praised the RSS, not we," said Chowdhury, also a former state Congress president.

The meeting Chowdhury referred to had taken place in September 2003. Banerjee had attended a book release programme organised by the RSS in Delhi where its top brass was present.

There Banerjee had reportedly called the RSS leaders "true patriots" and said: "I know you love the country, you care for even small, remote areas of the country". She had also sought RSS support to fight the Communists, who were in power then in West Bengal.

"By saying in Murshidabad that Adhir Chowdhury and Abhijit are involved with the RSS, she is trying to create some suspicion and confusion about the Congress in the mind of the minorities and the religious-minded Muslims," said Chowdhury.

Abhijit Mukherjee also joined the issue with Banerjee. "Congress has never joined the RSS. But who was a member of (former Prime Minister) Atal Behari Vajpayee's cabinet? Not us."

Banerjee had served as Railway and Coal Minister in Vajpayee's cabinet.

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