The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not mention the pending criminal cases in her nomination papers for the Bhowanipore (Bhabanipur) by-election. The chief opposition party filed a complaint with the Election Commission against the Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief.
While the BJP has fielded Priyanka Tibrewal, a lawyer by profession, CPM has fielded lawyer Srijib Biswas from the seat. Indian National Congress (INC) is not taking part in the by-election.
Bhabanipur, believed to be a safe seat for the chief minister whose retention of the post depends on winning this by-poll, will vote on 30 September. The result will be declared on 3 October.
Earlier on 10 September, Mamata Banerjee filed her nomination for the by-election.
Banerjee, a resident of a neighbourhood near, had won the seat twice in 2011 and 2016 but she moved to Nandigram this year, where the anti-farmland acquisition movement against the Left Front government had transformed her into a major political force in the volatile state. This was apparently to dare Suvendu Adhikari, now in the BJP as the Leader of Opposition in the Bengal assembly, on his home turf.
Few outside Bengal know that it was Adhikari who made the Nandigram uprising successful while Banerjee was busy demonstrating in Singur against the Nano factory of Tata Motors. The Nandigram revolt was against the notorious Salem group of Indonesia that then-chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had brought in purportedly for infrastructure development.
Though Banerjee powered the AITC to a resounding win for a third straight term in office, she lost in Nandigram. She now must win Bhabanipur to ensure an unbroken stint as the chief minister.
Banerjee is required to win a seat in the state assembly by 5 November in conformity with the constitutional provisions in order to continue as Chief Minister. The Constitution allows a non-member of a state legislature or Parliament to continue in a ministerial position without getting elected only for six months.
After her defeat in Nandigram, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, state cabinet minister and AITC MLA from Bhabanipur, vacated the seat to facilitate her return to the assembly from there.
Banerjee was first elected to the assembly in a by-poll from Bhabanipur months after the AITC stormed to power ousting the 34-year-old Left Front dispensation in 2011. She represented South Kolkata Lok Sabha seat, of which Bhabanipur is a segment, six times.