West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday extended her party’s support to Congress candidate Pradip Bhattacharya for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. “All five of our candidates will win. And we will support Congress candidate Pradip Bhattacharya for the sixth seat,” Banerjee told reporters in the state assembly. Congress candidate Pradip Bhattacharya and CPI(M)-led Left Front candidate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya filed their nominations on Friday. When asked to comment on the Left Front too fielding a candidate, Banerjee said, “Why are they saying apolitical? He is not an apolitical person.”
The CPI(M) had earlier proposed the idea of fielding an apolitical candidate. The TMC leadership had earlier this week communicated to the Congress high command that they are ready to support Congress if it nominates former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar or Pradip Bhattacharya as its candidate for the RS polls. The five TMC candidates who had on Wednesday filed nominations are former Bengal Congress president Manas Bhuniam, TMC’s chief national spokesperson Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Dola Sen and former Gorkha National Liberation Front leader from Darjeeling hills Santa Chetri, who had switched over to the TMC. Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Dola Sen were renominated.
The elections for six Rajya Sabha seats from West Bengal will be held on August 8. Of the six seats, four are currently held by the TMC, one by the CPI(M) and one by the Congress. The TMC, however, with its increased strength after the 2016 assembly polls, is in a position to send five MPs to the Rajya Sabha. The Congress, the second largest party, will be able to elect one MP on its own strength. A candidate will need about 43 votes to get elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front has 32 MLAs in the assembly. The Congress has 44 MLAs and the ruling TMC has 211 members. Although eight Congress MLAs and one Left MLA have switched over to the TMC, they are yet to resign from their parent parties. Only Manas Bhunia, a Congress MLA, resigned yesterday to contest the Rajya Sabha polls as a TMC candidate. He had joined the TMC in September last year.