Special Correspondent

Congress leadership welcomes decision The by-election has been necessitated by the death of Ghani Khan Choudhury, a veteran leader of the Congress

Kolkata: Differences have surfaced within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in West Bengal with the State's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership unhappy over the announcement by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, here on Monday that her party would not be contesting the by-election to the Malda Lok Sabha seat in favour of the Congress nominee.

The elections to the seat as well as to two other Lok Sabha and another Assembly seat are slated to be held on September 16.

"The Trinamool will not be fielding a candidate for the seat as a gesture of deference towards the family of the departed A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury," Ms. Banerjee said, adding that her party's NDA partner, the BJP should follow suit.

"The decision goes against the interest and spirit of the NDA for it leaves the field open for the Congress and the Communist Party of India [Marxist]" Tathagata Roy, president of the State unit of the BJP, said.

The by-election to the Malda seat has been necessitated by the death in April of Ghani Khan Choudhury, a veteran leader of the Congress.

The State's Congress leadership has welcomed Ms. Banerjee's announcement.

Both Choudhury and Ms. Banerjee were in the forefront of the move between a section of the leadership of the Congress and the Trinamool to forge a mahajot (grand alliance of anti-Left parties) prior to the last Assembly elections in May.

The move, however, did not fructify. Local BJP leaders also had to be pacified by the party's Central leadership then following their resentment over the sharing of seats with the Trinamool. They being the largest Opposition party in the State, the Trinamool is the senior NDA partner in West Bengal.