AFTER CONGRESS fielded MP Pradeep Bhattacharya as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls from West Bengal, Left Front on Friday nominated former Kolkata Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya. The nomination, however, is likely to get rejected as Bhattacharya could not allegedly submit an additional affidavit before nominations closed at 3 pm.
Friday was the last date of filing of nomination. Sources said state Assembly Secretary Jayanta Koley refused to accept the affidavit from Bhattacharya, as it was submitted after 3 pm.
The Left Front, however, alleged that all forms and affidavits were submitted within the stipulated time.
Later, Left Legislature Party leader Sujan Chakraborty and senior CPM leader Rabin Deb met Koley, who is also the returning officer (RO) for the Rajya Sabha elections.
After the meeting, which continued till late evening, Chakraborty said: “Firstly, there was no mention of an additional affidavit in the nomination forms. We were not aware of it. Secondly, all forms were submitted in time and there was no complexity regarding the submission of forms. We submitted the forms at 2.48 pm and the additional documents were submitted at 2.58 pm. They said that we were late. We immediately opposed this.”
“We also spoke to Election Commission officials. They said the RO will take a call on this. The RO then said that he will not accept the additional affidavit,” he added.
Chakraborty said the final decision regarding the cancellation of Bhattacharya’s nomination will be taken on Saturday during scrutiny of the nominations.
“We are approaching the EC. If the nomination gets cancelled, we will challenge the decision legally. We think we are becoming the victim of a conspiracy… some people are trying to hatch a conspiracy. There are suspicions. We still believe that Bhattacharya’s nomination stands…,” he added.
Earlier in the day, an emergency meeting of the Left Front was held, where the party decided to field a candidate for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat from the state.
Left Front Chairman Biman Bose said they were forced to field a candidate as the Congress did not field an “independent candidate” in consultation with them. “Congress did not think about a common or a joint candidate by Opposition parties. We had proposed to field an apolitical person as a joint candidate. However, they never approached us. Besides, we had no idea that Pradeep Bhattacharya was renominated by Congress. In such circumstances, we had no option but to field our own candidate,” he added.
The Trinamool Congress, meanwhile, said it will support Congress’ candidate. Trinamool has already fielded candidates for five Rajya Sabha seats. It had not fielded any candidate for the sixth seat and it was left for the Opposition.
“It is clear now that we have fielded five candidates and the Congress has fielded the sixth candidate. All our candidates will win because of the strength of our MLAs and we will support the Congress in the sixth seat,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
Mocking the Left Front for its failure to strike an understanding with the Congress, the CM said: “As far as I was informed, the Congress had said that it will support the Left candidate, who is a party leader from Delhi. When the Left could not field him, then only Congress fielded a candidate. When the Congress had given its word to support the Left candidate, the Left should have done the same. I think they have not done the right thing.”
“If they (Left) wanted to field an apolitical candidate, how come they fielded the former Kolkata mayor, who is a political person?” she asked.
Meanwhile, soon after he was nominated, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya went to the Assembly to file his nomination. He appealed to all parties to support him in the election.
Bhattacharya, a former Kolkata mayor, has been instrumental in Opposition’s fight against multiple chit fund scams. With Left fielding its candidate, a contest will be held between him and Pradeep Bhattacharya. The Congress was forced to field its candidate after the CPM central committee rejected its West Bengal unit’s proposal to send party general secretary Sitaram Yechury to Rajya Sabha for the third time.
Pradeep Bhattacharya, who also submitted his nomination on Friday, said: “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her party will extend full support to us in the elections. But we hoped to get Left’s support. However, they have fielded their own candidate.”
Taking a dig at the Left, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said: “We have fielded our candidate. It is the prerogative of other parties whether to support our candidate.”
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 Trinamool, one by CPM and one by Congress.