Putting a rest to speculations, the BJP and Congress on Thursday announced candidates for the three bypolls to be held on November 19. While BJP’s two former candidates — Hem Chandra Burman from Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituency and Biswajit Poddar from Monteswar Assembly seat — are once again in the fray, the party has pitched a new face, Ambuj Mohanti from Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency, in East Midnapore.
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BJP national general secretary and state observer Kailash Vijayvargiya had reportedly held a meeting with senior state leaders late Tuesday, and sent a list of nine candidates to the party’s central committee, which finalised the three.
Two names which were doing the rounds as BJP candidates were those of actor-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee and former CPM MP from Tamluk Lakshman Seth, who was recently inducted into the party.
“Chatterjee’s name was not there from the beginning. It was mere media speculation. We are happy with the name (candidate). Mohanti is a professor from Tamluk. He is very popular there, and we are hopeful about all our candidates,” said former state BJP president Rahul Sinha.
It was also found that Seth’s name was dropped from the list owing to objections from some senior leaders.
“Pitching Seth would have had both good and bad effects. He was not nominated because of his reputation as a former muscleman for CPM, who has been accused of being involved in several anti-social activities, and who lost his last election very badly. On the other hand, the party hardly has any presence in East Midnapore. Seth at least has an office where the party will be able to operate from,” said a senior leader.
Senior BJP leader Jayprakash Majumder said the fight would chiefly be between the ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP. “People have realised that parties such as CPM and Congress have become irrelevant. This bypoll is a fight between Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi. The candidates are secondary in this case,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Congress declared Partha Pratim Isore as the candidate for Cooch Behar (SC) constituency, Partha Batabyal for the Tamluk seat and Bulbul Ahammed Sekh for the Monteswar seat.
“Congress president Sonia Gandhi has approved the proposal for the candidature of party candidates to contest the bypolls to the Lok Sabha and Legislative seats,” AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry said.
All three seats had formerly been held by Trinamool. While Cooch Behar and Monteswar bypolls had become necessary owing to the death of MP Renuka Sinha and MLA Sajal Panja, respectively, Tamluk constituency was vacated after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee decided to pitch party MP Suvendu Adhikari as an MLA candidate from Nandigram in the 2016 state elections. After winning, Adhikari was inducted into the state Cabinet.