Rahul’s great primary idea: No challenger to ex-TMC Somen

Kolkata North is one of the 16 constituencies chosen by Rahul for his experiment

Written by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay | Kolkata | Updated: February 12, 2014 11:17 am
Kolkata North is one of the 16 constituencies chosen by Rahul for his experiment Kolkata North is one of the 16 constituencies chosen by Rahul for his experiment

Barely a fortnight after he rejoined the Congress, veteran politician Somen Mitra has become the party candidate from Kolkata North. This makes Mitra the first candidate from any party to be declared the official nominee at any of West Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats. 

And for this Mitra has Rahul Gandhi — and his plan to select candidates at some seats through US-style primaries — to thank.

Kolkata North is one of the 16 constituencies chosen by Rahul for his experiment. And since Mitra’s was the only nomination to be filed, the AICC team from Delhi declared him the winner. A formal announcement from the AICC was expected.

“The primary election was supposed to be held on February 12, but on February 7, the day nominations closed, we found that only one nomination had been submitted, that of Somen Mitra. Since it was in order, we declared him winner from the constituency. We have submitted our report to Rahulji,” Rudra Raj, one of the returning officers for the election, who was part of the 14-member AICC team that came to West Bengal on February 1 to oversee the process, told The Indian Express.

Rajpal Bisht, another returning officer, said, “We went through all formalities spelt out by the AICC and we found that Mitraji could be the candidate as there was no other nomination.”

Mitra, who is popularly known as Chhorda (the Bengali name for the younger of two or more elder brothers) in his backyard of Sealdah and Bowbazar in north Kolkata, was the Trinamool Congress MP from Diamond Harbour until he resigned his seat last month before joining the Congress. He has represented Sealdah in the Bengal assembly for three and a half decades.

As the Congress candidate from the Lok Sabha constituency of 16 lakh voters, Mitra, however, is likely to face a difficult task and a formidable field of rivals. The Trinamool’s Sudip Bandopadhyay won the seat in 2009, defeating CPM veteran Mohammad Selim by over 1 lakh votes. BJP state president Rahul Sinha might enter the mix as well.

“Last time Sudip was a candidate of the Congress-TMC alliance. But I don’t care who my opponent is anyway. A contest is a contest, and I have plunged into it. I will win,” Mitra said.

Selim gave a more nuanced assessment. “We have our own system of selecting candidates. So I don’t know who our nominee will be. But there are a few things one must remember. First, Sudip was a candidate of the Cong-TMC alliance. Second, the BJP got about 70,000 votes from here. It will be a close fight,” he said.

An additional concern for Mitra’s supporters is that the WBPCC is now headed by Baharampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Mitra’s old rival in the state Congress.

“Chhorda has his own machinery, his own people. The only concern is that there should not be sabotage,” a close aide said.

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    Bittu sharma
    Feb 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm
    Raj thakare always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule. it's shameless politics of MNS. .
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      Kanika Dhawan
      Feb 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm
      Holding primaries for nominees - clean, transparent and just way of choosing candidates. Job well done, Mr hi. You deserve to be PM.
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        manish
        Feb 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm
        This is a nice innovative strategy to ensure fair opportunity to all and avoid any sort of cold feelings amongst party workers.
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          nikita singh
          Feb 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm
          42-year-old Rahul hi is the strongest youth icon in this country. His efforts to bring transparency in the political system by incorporating the youth brigade in strategic posts have won him wide praise..
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            nikita singh
            Feb 12, 2014 at 11:35 am
            rahul hi and Congress party captures the essence of the nation. they know the problem of common man of india and also have solution for that..
            Reply
            1. N
              nikita singh
              Feb 12, 2014 at 11:35 am
              rahul hi and Congress party captures the essence of the nation. they know the problem of common man of india and also have solution for that..
              Reply
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                Rajat gupta
                Feb 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm
                indians are know that this is not about another election; it is a turning point in our nation's history. The change that is taking place before people is unstoppable... rahul deserve for PM of india
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                  Rajat gupta
                  Feb 12, 2014 at 11:59 am
                  yuth will give chance to Rahul. congress know that the pawer of rahul hi , Rahul hi has a philosophical explanation of what consutes good politics and understands it in granular detail including and up to the level of common man.
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                    Rao VVN
                    Feb 12, 2014 at 9:32 am
                    Selection? when there is none, what is the selection? It is another joke by RGs coterie. And Somen Mitra was very close to Left-front when he was PCC President. This was prompted Mamata Banerjee then to say that these people were like Water Melon. Red inside and green outside.
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                      Rao VVN
                      Feb 12, 2014 at 9:32 am
                      Selection? when there is none, what is the selection? It is another joke by RGs coterie. And Somen Mitra was very close to Left-front when he was PCC President. This was prompted Mamata Banerjee then to say that these people were like Water Melon. Red inside and green outside.
                      Reply
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                        robin sehgal
                        Feb 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm
                        Incorporating new ideas from different systems and cultures that mould into ours benfit future administration. Is nt taht a quality that we are looking for in our would-be PM.
                        Reply
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                          shivani gautam
                          Feb 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm
                          No one is big or small in congress. Each and every member is equally important, every person is a Rahul hi in congress... congress will win again in 2014 election..
                          Reply
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                            vaibhav gaur
                            Feb 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm
                            Primary elections within the party seems an efficient and fair way of handling internal disputes. Rahul should look to expand this idea further to all consuencies.
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