Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is an Indian politician and member of the Indian National Congress (INC).
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was born on Monday, 2 April 1956 (age 66 years; as of 2022) in Berhampore, Murshidabad district, West Bengal. After his matriculation at Gorabazar Iswar Chandra Institution in Berhampore in 1970, he dropped out of school at the age of 15. Later, he earned an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letter from Sri Sharda Institute of Indian Management Research, New Delhi.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Colour: Black (half bald)
Eye Colour: Black
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (right) talking to the passengers, while on his inspection visit to the Nizamuddin Railway Station, in New Delhi
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Niranjan Chowdhury, and his mother’s name is Saraju Bala Chowdhury (also spelt as Saroja Bala Chowdhury).
Wife & Children
On 15 September 1987, he got married to Arpita Chowdhury, a businesswoman who died in 2019. Arpita was fondly called ‘Didibhai’ in the Murshidabad district, and she had a long association with the district Congress. Together, they had a daughter, Shreyashi Chowdhury, who died at 18 due to injuries sustained after she allegedly jumped from her fifth-floor apartment. Before her death, she was attending an actor and model grooming school.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s first wife, Arpita Chowdhury
After Shreyashi’s death, Adhir and Arpita adopted a girl found in a taxi in 2007. Reportedly, they secured temporary custody of the child at first and had to wait for six months before it was made permanent. Later, Adhir Ranjan got married to Atashi C Chowdhury (née Atashi Chatterjee). Together, the couple has a daughter, Shushree Hoimonti.
- 9, Haribabu R., Paschim, P.O.-Cossimbazar, Berhampore, Murshidabad-742102, West Bengal
- 26/1/A, Sahid Surya Sen Road, Gonbazar, Berhampore, Murshidabad-742102, West Bengal
4, South Avenue Lane, New Delhi – 110 011
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s signature
In 1978, he ventured into politics as a member of the Indian National Congress (INC). He became the president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress on 10 February 2014. He was succeeded by Somendra Nath Mitra in 2018. However, after the demise of Somendra Nath Mitra, Adhir Ranjan was again appointed as the President of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) in 2020.
1991 West Bengal Assembly Elections
In 1991, he contested the Nabagram Assembly seat, but he was defeated by CPM candidate Sisir Kumar Sarkar by a margin of 1,401 votes.
1996 West Bengal Assembly Elections
In 1996, Adhir Ranjan contested and won the Nabagram Assembly seat defeating CPM candidate Muzaffar Hossain by 20,329 votes. He served as the MLA from Nabagram until 1999 when he was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha.
1999 General Elections
In 1999, Adhir Ranjan contested and won the Baharampur Lok Sabha seat defeating RSP candidate Pramothes Mukherjee by 95,391 votes. Thereafter, he was made the Congress president for the Murshidabad district. Later, he became a Member of the Committee to Review the Rate of Dividend Payable by the Railway Undertaking to the General Revenues. He also served as a Member of the Railway Convention Committee. He served as a Member of the Standing Committee on Information Technology (1999 – 2000), Member of the Standing Committee on Railways (1999-2004), and Member of the Consultative Committee on Ministry of External Affairs (2000 – 2004).
2004 General Elections
In 2004, Adhir Ranjan contested and won the Baharampur Lok Sabha seat defeating RSP candidate Pramothes Mukherjee by 98,901 votes. Thereafter, he became a Member of the Committee on Estimates, Member of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, and Member of Consultative Committee on Ministry of External Affairs.
2009 General Elections
In 2009, Adhir Ranjan contested and won the Baharampur Lok Sabha seat defeating RSP candidate Pramothes Mukherjee by 1,86,977 votes. From 2009-2012, he served as a Member of the Standing Committee on Defence,
Member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine matters relating to Allocation and Pricing of telecom licences and 2G Spectrum, Member of the Standing Committee on Energy, Member of the Committee on Estimates, Member of the Consultative Committee on Ministry of External Affairs, and Member of the Consultative Committee on Ministry of Food Processing. In 2012, he was appointed as the Union Minister of State for Railways; he held the position til 2014.
2014 General Elections
In 2014, Adhir Ranjan contested and won the Baharampur Lok Sabha seat defeating TMC candidate Indranil Sen by 3,56,567 votes. From 2014 to 2019, he served as a Member of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs, Member of the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament, and Member of the Consultative Committee on Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
2019 General Elections
In 2019, Adhir Ranjan contested and won the Baharampur Lok Sabha seat defeating TMC candidate Apurba Sarkar (David) by 80,696 votes. On 24 July 2019, he was appointed as the Chairperson of the Committee on Public Accounts. On 13 September 2019, he became a Member of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs. On 21 November 2019, he became a Member of the General Purposes Committee on Lok Sabha and a Member of the Consultative Committee on the Ministry of Defence. As no party held 10% of the seats to secure the position of Leader of Opposition, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was chosen as the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, which was the second largest opposition party.
- Between Two Silences (English)
- Aguner Rangneel (Bengali)
- The History of Murshidabad District Congress – 1885 – 2010
- 125, Bochorer Alokey Murshidabad Zila Congress (Bengali)
Accused in the Murder of CPM Leader Manab Saha (1996)
In 1996, he was implicated in the murder of CPM leader Manab Saha in Baharampur town after which he was supposedly absconding. Despite absconding during the 1996 Assembly elections in West Bengal, he won the seat.
Murder of CPM panchayat pradhan Gobardhan (2003)
Police booked him for the murder of CPM panchayat pradhan Gobardhan after two arrested persons allegedly named him as a conspirator. A fast-track court in Katwa, Burdwan, acquitted him on 21 March 2010.
Accused of Murdering Two Hoteliers (2005)
On 9 November 2005, Chowdhury was arrested from his 82, South Avenue residence in Delhi by two police officers for the murder of two hoteliers Hanif Sheikh and Laltu Sheikh. Chowdhury was accused of the killing along with his wife Arpita and 13 Congress party workers. He spent a month and a half in jail that year, secured bail, and was eventually acquitted two years later. Reportedly, the hoteliers were once with Adhir’s party before they switched allegiance to the CPM.
Creating Trouble At a Polling Booth (2007)
Soon after he was acquitted in 2007 in the double murder case, he was again arrested for creating trouble at a polling booth.
Accused in the Killing of TMC leader Kamal Sheikh (2011)
A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against Chowdhury in 2011 after the police submitted a charge sheet accusing Chowdhury and eight others under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, as also under the Arms Act and the Explosive Substances Act. for his alleged involvement in the murder of TMC leader Kamal Sheikh. Later, he was granted interim bail by a Behrampore court. Sheikh was murdered in Murshidabad’s Gora Bazar just two days after West Bengal’s Assembly results were declared on 13 May 2011.
Attacking the District Magistrate’s Bungalow (2012)
In 2012, Chowdhury and 14 other Congress workers were accused of attacking DM’s bungalow in Murshidabad for which he was granted anticipatory bail. The incident occurred when a Congress delegation went to the DM’s office to submit a memorandum. After DM Rajiv Kumar refused to accept the memorandum and asked the additional district magistrate to receive it, the situation turned violent. The agitated Congress workers vandalised the DM’s bungalow and vehicles in Berhampore.
Calling PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah “Migrants” (2019)
In 2019, amid the turmoil caused by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Adhir Ranjan called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah “intruders” and “migrants” in Delhi since their homes were in Gujarat. While accusing the BJP of promoting religious discrimination through the NRC, Chowdhury said,
They (BJP) want to drive out Muslims from the country. But why a Muslim, who is a citizen of India, should leave the country? Is this country anybody’s jagir (property)? This country is for everyone, where everyone has equal rights.”
Thereafter, a war of words broke out in Lok Sabha during the question hour when the ruling alliance members tried to mock him by shouting the word “infiltrator” several times.
Speech on UN role in Kashmir (2019)
In the aftermath of the BJP’s decision to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A in Kashmir, Chowdhury was criticised by various BJP members for his speech in the Lok Sabha in which he questioned how Kashmir was an “internal matter” if the United Nations (UN) was monitoring it since 1948. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra labelled Chowdhury as “Pakistan’s representative” in a tweet. Patra tweeted,
Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary demanding a clarification from BJP government as to how Kashmir is an internal matter of India ..saying Kashmir matter is pending in the UN …It seems Pakistan send their representative to the Indian Parliament! (sic).”
Comparing PM Narendra Modi to ‘Gandi Naali’ (2019)
In 2019, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s objectionable remark against PM Modi sparked uproar in Lok Sabha. While claiming that there’s no comparison between Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi, Chowdhury said,
Kahan maa ganga, kahan gandi naali.”
(One is Mother Ganges, other is a dirty drain)
Later, Chowdhury clarified that his intention was not to insult the PM and he regrets if Modi was hurt by his comment. Admitting that his proficiency in Hindi is far from perfect, he explained that he was trying to say that there was no comparison between ‘Ma Ganga’ and a ‘naali’ (channel). He clarified that he felt the urge to give the statement when BJP MP compared PM Modi to Swami Vivekananda, who is revered in Bengal.
Rashtrapatni Remark (2022)
In 2022, BJP accused Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of humiliating President Droupadi Murmu when he accidentally referred to her as ‘Rashtrapatni,’ which was considered a derogatory remark. Consequently, Smriti Irani in Lok Sabha and Nirmala Sitharaman in Rajya Sabha vociferously protested and sought an apology from Chowdhury as well as Congress president Sonia Gandhi, accusing the Congress of being anti-Adivasi and anti-women for the alleged reference. On 29 July 2022, Chowdhury tendered a written apology to the President, which read,
I am writing to express my regret for having mistakenly used an incorrect word to describe the position you hold. I assure you that it was a slip of the tongue. I apologise and request you to accept the same.”
Thereafter, he launched a scathing attack against Union minister Smriti Irani for “lowering the dignity” of the president’s office during one of her speeches in the lower House. He pointed out that she was yelling ‘Droupadi Murmu’ repeatedly without prefixing Hon’ble President or Madame or Smt. before the Hon’ble President’s name. On 31 July 2022, an FIR was filed against him in Madhya Pradesh under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including promoting enmity between different groups on the complaint of former MP minister Om Prakash Dhurve.
Assets & Properties
- Deposits in Banks, Financial Institutions and Non-Banking Financial Companies: Rs 17,88,038
- Motor Vehicles: Rs 23,30,549
- Non-Agricultural Land: Rs 6,14,00,000
- Commercial Buildings: Rs 40,00,000
- Residential Buildings: Rs 2,37,88,500
As of 2019, his net worth is Rs 9,28,08,453.
- Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has a keen interest in science and promoting scientific innovations. He extensively encourages the preservation of literature and long-established and customary folk arts. He actively participates in Bangla Cultural activities held around the country to showcase Bangla culture to the rest of the world.
- He has a voracious appetite for reading.
- He is an avid soccer fan since childhood. He established a Sports Club in West Bengal to encourage youngsters’ involvement in sports.
- He was referred to as Prince of Murshidabad by India Today in 2003.
- In 2022, Adhir Ranjan wrote to Anand Sharma, the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, asking the committee to discuss the violative software application ‘Tek Fog,’ in their next meeting. Reportedly, Tek Fog is a software application used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to artificially inflate the popularity of the party, harass its critics and manipulate public perceptions at scale across major social media platforms.
- He is known as “Robin Hood” in his hometown Behrampore.
- Though he had been implicated in the murder of CPM leader Manab Saha and was supposedly absconding during the 1996 West Bengal Assembly elections, Adhir contested the Nabagram seat with his recorded voice playing out on microphones during campaigns.
- In 1996, Mamata Banerjee, then a member of Congress, threatened to hang herself in public should Adhir be given a ticket.
- Adhir is also a poet and has published an anthology in Bengali and English.