The Trinamool Congress is likely to nominate actor and Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Jaya Bachchan as its candidate from West Bengal to Rajya Sabha, sources said. Jaya Bachchan’s third term in the Upper House comes to an end on April 3.
A senior Trinamool Congress leader confirmed that Bachchan was a frontrunner for the nomination. The formal announcement would be made after party chief Mamata Banerjee takes a final decision, the leader added. “The official announcement is likely to be made around March 18,” the leader said.
Fifty-eight MPs will retire from Rajya Sabha in April. Ten seats will fall vacant from Uttar Pradesh, which is expected to bring the BJP — which won 312 of the 403 Assembly seats last year — major gains. The SP, which Bachchan now represents, has the numbers to win only one seat.
“Four of our MP seats are to be vacated, and a number of people are lobbying. At least two new nominees will be seen in the Upper House,” said another source in the Trinamool. Bachchan, it is learnt had begun “sending feelers” to Mamata soon after the UP Assembly election results. “Jaya Bachchan’s Bengali roots and her continued popularity in the state makes her an ideal candidate. Her husband, Amitabh Bachchan, has often referred to himself as the son-in-law of Bengal,” the Trinamool leader said.
In April 2017, after a BJP youth worker declared a “Rs 11 lakh bounty” on the West Bengal CM, Bachchan had lashed out at the BJP, saying, “You can protect cows, but women are facing atrocities.” Jaya and Amitabh are regulars at the Kolkata International Film Festival, at the 2017 edition of which Amitabh was the chief guest for the fourth year in a row.
Among the four Trinamool Rajya Sabha MPs nearing the end of their terms are Saradha scam accused Kunal Ghosh, who has been suspended indefinitely by the party, and Mukul Roy, who quit his seat and the Trinamool in October last year to join the BJP. The other two retiring Trinamool MPs are Vivek Gupta, editor of the Hindi daily Sanmarg, and Urdu writer and journalist Md Nadimal Haque.