"This is a matter of serious concern and there is a need for serious introspection within the party. Especially there should be a joint introspection by the AICC and PCC," senior party leader Manas Bhuniya said.

Bhuniya, a former WBPCC President, who was recently summoned by Congress general secretary C P Joshi to take stock of the party affairs in the state, also met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and informed her about the situation.

As many as 9 of the 42 Congress MLAs who had won in the 2011 Assembly poll, left the party to join the Trinamool Congress while state youth Congress President Saumik Hussain also joined TMC.

"When our leader Rahul Gandhi is giving prime importance to youth, why are so many young leaders deserting the party?" Bhuniya asked.

Admitting that there is desertion in the party, state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury said, "Those who are leaving Congress are basically opportunists. They feel that this is the right time to switch over to TMC to secure their political future as Congress is going through tough times."

Chowdhury, however, said that this was happening not only in Bengal, but in other states too.

"After I took over in February, this year I was able to control the exodus. But due to the poor results of the party in the Lok Sabha polls the trend has again started. And this is not confined to Bengal Congress alone. The same thing is happening in other states too," he said.

A section of state Congress leaders, however, accused Chowdhury of high-handedness, while dealing with veteran leaders of the party.

"Adhir Chowdhury is a good organizer at the district level. He doesn't understand the highs and lows of state politics. His highhanded attitude in dealing with veteran leaders is one of the main reasons behind this trend of desertion," another senior state Congress leader Abdul Mannan said.

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