All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief Mamata Banerjee announced on 5 March she will contest from the Nandigram constituency in the assembly elections in West Bengal to be held later this month as she declared 291 candidates for 294 seats in the first list of her party. “I will contest from Nandigram and my party colleague Sovandeb Chattopadhyay will be fighting from Bhawanipore seat,” the Bengal chief minister said.
Mamata will be up against Suvendu Adhikari, one of the senior leaders of the Trinamool to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Bengal assembly elections, in Nandigram.
“We are releasing the list of 291 candidates, out of which 50 candidates are women and 40 candidates are from the Muslim community … In three constituencies in north Bengal, the TMC’s candidates will not be contesting,” Banerjee said.
In the list of 291 candidates, Trinamool Congress has dropped over 20 sitting MLAs and top ministers, including Partha Chattopadhyay and Amit Mitra. Many others aged above 80 years have been dropped from the TMC list.
Former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee’s estranged wife Ratna Chatterjee has been fielded from Behala Purba, which is his seat. Sovan Chatterjee joined the BJP after a series of scandals surrounding his personal life.
Mamata said that TMC has left out three seats of the total 294 for allies and friends to contest from North Bengal and other regions. Announcing the list, Mamata Banerjee said there are 50 female candidates, 42 Muslim candidates, 79 Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates and 17 Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.
With the announcement, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee set the stage for the 2021 Bengal elections and released the party’s list of candidates for the 8-phase polls.
Mamata Banerjee said that state finance minister Amit Mitra will give the 2021 election a miss due to failing health. Amit Mitra could not even place the Budget this year.
She further said that while she is vacating her own seat Bhawanipur in Kolkata, veteran TMC minister Sovandeb Chatterjee will be fielded from the seat.
TMC is not repeating 27-28 candidates for the 2021 election over various reasons, said Mamata and added that those above 80 years are not being given any ticket. Minister Partha Chattopadhyay will not get a ticket this time.
After hectic deliberations, Trinamool Congress finalised its candidates’ list for the 291 seats in West Bengal that will go to polls in April-May in the most high-stakes election this year.
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee announced the list on 5 March as she had done in the 2016 and 2011 elections as well. Mamata had released the lists for the previous elections, on 5 March.
While the list has been in the making for quite some time, especially with the help of poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his team, who have done extensive surveys in each seat to gauge the public mood about every sitting MLA and their performance, sources say the impetus is being given on those with a clean image, young and new faces.
West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases on 27 March, 1, 6, 10, 17, 22, 26 and 29 April, making it the longest ever polls to be conducted in the state. The votes will be counted on 2 May.
Adhikari ready to face Mamata, might of old party Trinamool
BJP leader and former state minister Suvendu Adhikari has told the central leadership that he is keen to contest the Nandigram seat against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, senior party leader said.
Adhikari had won the seat in the 2016 Assembly polls while Banerjee emerged victorious from the Bhabanipur Assembly segment in Kolkata.
BJP leader and former state minister Rajib Banerjee said, Adhikari on 4 March told senior party leaders during an election committee meeting held at party’s national president JP Nadda’s residence that he was ready for Nandigram.
The final decision on his candidature will be taken by the BJP’s central election committee (CEC), which met in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders.
“Discussions were held on selection of candidates for the first two phases. Later in the evening, the parliamentary committee will once again go through the list before taking the final call. Suvendu Adhikari himself expressed his desire to contest from Nandigram. Now, we are awaiting the final announcement,” Banerjee told reporters after the meeting at Nadda’s residence.
Besides Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Nadda, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari reached the BJP headquarters for the CEC meeting. A source said another meeting was scheduled for Friday.
A senior party leader said candidates would be chosen on the basis of their clean image, winnability and acceptance among voters. “The party will not compromise on these issues… Besides, people from all walks of the society will get a ticket,” said the BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.
Here are some of the candidates:
- Mamata Banerjee- Nandigram
- Manoj Tiwary – Shibpur
- Debasis Kumar – Rash Behari
- Madan Mitra- Kamarhati
- Aditi Munshi- Rajarhat
- Partha Chatterjee- Behala
- Ratna Chatterjee – Behala Purba