Five candidates, including four from Trinamool Congress and one of CPM filed their nominations from the state for the Rajya Sabha elections even as Congress decided to back sitting MP Ahmad Saeed Malihabadi as an Independent nominee.
Five Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant in the state in April, for which elections are scheduled on February 7.
From Trinamool Congress, actor Mithun Chakraborty, painter Jogen Chowdhury, industrialist K D Singh and Ahmad Hassan filed their nominations. CPM candidate and SFI all India general secretary Ritabrata Bandopadhyay, also filed his nomination.
The Trinamool Congress, with 187 MLAs, has ensured safe passage for Mithun , K D Singh and Chowdhury, but it will need support of another four MLAs to ensure Hassan too gets into the Rajya Sabha.
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“We have made calculations and found out that our fourth candidate will scrape through,” Shovon Dev Chattopadhyay, government chief whip, said after filing of the nominations. To elected, a candidate will need 49 votes.
The Left Front with 61 MLAs will ensure the victory of its one candidate.
However, with the Congress deciding to back sitting RS member Ahmad Saeed Malihabadi as an Independent nominee, whom the Left is also likely to support, the fight for the fifth seat has turned interesting.
“Malihabadi has approached the Congress seeking the party’s support to his candidature and the party high command has asked us to extend support of the Congress MLAs to him,” state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacherjee said today. Bhattacherjee had earlier recommended Malihabadi’s name to the party high command as a possible Independent candidate whom the Congress and the Left could support.
The development evoked sharp reaction from TMC which said it exposed “weakness and mutual links between Congress and CPI(M)”.
Senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy said, “What we were suspecting, has happened. The Congress and the CPM have come together to block a TMC candidate who was sure to win. I still hope that some Congress MLAs who are really opposed to the CPM, will rebel against the party’s decision and vote for the TMC candidate.”
Meanwhile, Mithun Chakrabarty said he was as nervous as he was on the first day of shooting of his first film. “My legs were trembling. It is a different ball game here. But Didi (CM Mamata Banerjee) has given me a job and I will fulfil it,” Chakrabarty said after filing the nominations.
Chakraborty, a national award winning actor, has been known for his closeness to former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and late CPI(M) stalwart Subhas Chakraborty, who was also the sports minister during the Left Front regime. He was also seen campaigning for Subhas’s wife during a by-election in 2009, after Chakraborty’s death.
When asked about his closeness with Left leaders, Chakraborty said there was nothing political in relationship. “I only believe in the religion of man,” the actor said.
Painter Jogen Chaudhury also said he would speak for the rights for West Bengal.
Meanwhile, LF candidate Ritabrata said he would be raise the issue of the attacks on Left cadre in the state. “We will highlight the atrocities meted out on the left and the increasing violence against women in the state,” he said after filing nominations.