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West Bengal polls: Mamata fields stars, sports icons in crucial seats to gain mileage

Mamata Banerjee fielded footballers Rahim Nabi and Baichung Bhutia, cricketer Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, singer Indranil Sen and actor Soham Chatterjee for the upcoming Assembly polls.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | Kolkata |
Updated: March 18, 2016 11:30:01 am
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee with party leaders during the release of the party's list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections, in Kolkata on Friday. PTI Photo(PTI3_4_2016_000226A) West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee with party leaders during the release of the party’s list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections, in Kolkata on Friday. (Source: PTI)

Singers, actors, footballers, a retired cricketer, a former judge and the daughter of cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya are some of the elements that constitute the motley mix of “important personalities” that Mamata Banerjee hopes will constitute the winning formula for a successful campaign in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.

As assembly poll dates for Bengal were announced on Friday, Mamata Banerjee fielded footballers Rahim Nabi and Baichung Bhutia, cricketer Lakshmi Ratan Shukla and actor Soham Chatterjee for the upcoming polls. Party sources indicates that in certain seats, they hope that the fielding of a candidate, who has instant recognition and a mass support base would be key in capturing tough seats. For instance, Shukla, who has been fielded in Howrah (North) had first approached the party with his intention to join politics in November. “In the seat, the large population of Bihari migrants has increased the BJP’s popularity. Shukhla has been associated with Mamata since his days in Kolkata Knight Riders and he was an obvious fit for the seat,” said a senior TMC leader.

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Another key inclusion, that of Baishali Dalmiya, daughter of late Jangmohan Dalmiya from Bally assembly seat was much debated within the party, said sources. “There were many who didn’t feel that she had the necessary experience to actually contest the elections and win. But finally, Didi (Mamata) decided that she should be given a chance.”

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In Darjeeling, Mamata Banerjee – who has made frequent visits to the area – has challenged the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), while fielding Rebel GJM MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri from Kalimpong seat and former GNLF leader Shanta Chhetri in the Kurseong seat. “The party’s importance in the hills has increased in the past few years. Mamata Banerjee’s attention to the hills, something that previous governments have completely ignored, will be visible in this election,” said a party spokesperson.

Popular singer Indranil Sen will contest elections from Chandannagar instead of Ashoke Sahu; former justice Janab Abdul Ghani will contest elections from Jagat Ballavpur, previously won by TMC’s Abul Kashem Mollah.

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