KEEPING THE winning combination largely intact, which had ensured Trinamool Congress’ victory in the 2011 polls, party president and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections, while maintaining that she would fight the polls alone.
Soon after the Election Commission announced the six-phase poll schedule, Mamata, in a press conference, made public Trinamool candidates ahead of BJP, Congress and the Left.
“We have an alliance with the people. We have delivered on the promises we had made. Bengal has turned around in the last four years… The party (CPM), which had been in power for 34 years, is attacking us. We only had four years…. compared to them, our government is merely a child. But look at the amount of work we have done,” Mamata said. Unlike 2011, when Trinamool had contested the Assembly elections in alliance with Congress, the party will go on its own this time, she said.
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Mamata will contest from her Bhawanipur seat, where the BJP had made significant gains in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. For Mamata, the prime opposition is likely to come from former Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly. CPM and Congress have requested Ganguly to contest as an Independent, sources said.
Madan Mitra, jailed former minister and an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam, will contest from his old Kamarhati seat in North 24 Paraganas district.
Sitting MLA Argha Roy Prodhan, who had contested from Tufanganj in 2011, will now be the candidate from Mekhliganj. Sitting MLA Mamuda Begum (Kumarganj), who had won the 2011 polls by a narrow margin, has not been given a ticket. While Fazley Karim Miah will now contest from Tufanganj, Toraf Hossain Mondal is the candidate from Kumarganj.
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While Rudranath Bhattacharya from Siliguri and Ashok Ghosh from Howrah (North) were denied tickets, Mamata has replaced them with sports icons like former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutiya and former Bengal cricket captain Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, respectively.
Late BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s daughter Baishali Dalmiya will contest from Bally in Howrah, in place of Sultan Singh. Bengali film actor Soham will fight from Barjora in Bankura, replacing Ashutosh Mukherjee. On the other hand, Nayana Bandobadhyay will replace Shikha Mitra from Chowringee in Kolkata. Other seats where sitting MLAs have been denied tickets include Haroa, Chakdah, Krishnaganj. Mamata has also dropped sitting MLAs Sultan Ahmed and K P Singh Deo and changed the seat of minister Somen Mahapatra.
Expelled CPM leader and former minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah, who had joined the party recently, will contest from Bhangar. General secretary of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind’s state unit, Siddiqullah Chowdhury, who had joined the ruling party in February, will contest Mangalkot. Senior party leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhranshu Roy has been given the ticket from Bijpur. Meanwhile, MP Subhendu Mukherjee, will contest from Nandigram.
Mamata said the number of women candidates has increased from 31 in 2011 to 45 while the number of minority candidates has gone up from 38 to 57. Asked how many seats she hoped to win, she said: “I trust the people will vote for us. They would forfeit the deposits of the CPM, Congress and BJP candidates.” Trinamool will come out with its poll manifesto on March 11, she added.