WITH AN eye on Opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said her party Trinamool Congress will support Congress candidate Abhishek Singhvi in the March 23 Rajya Sabha polls from the state.
While the Congress, is yet to officially announce the name of Singvi as its candidate from West Bengal, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury confirmed the same. “Singhviji has been nominated by Sonia Gandhi herself,” he told The Indian Express.
Mamata also named Dr Shantanu Sen, Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Nadimul Haque as the Trinamool candidates for the elections from the state.
Speaking at an extended core committee meeting of the party at Nazrul Mancha in Kolkata, Mamata said: “Today, we have taken the decision for a better cause. We have been requested to support the fifth Rajya Sabha candidate from West Bengal, fielded by the Congress. Therefore, we have decided to support Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the Congress’ Rajya Sabha candidate.”
“We are supporting him because he had fought several (legal) cases on behalf of the state government. Singhvi and Kapil Sibal usually fights cases on our behalf. So, we are supporting the Congress candidate, as the CPM did not field a candidate from the state,” she added.
On March 23, five Rajya Sabha candidates would be elected from West Bengal. By its strength in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, Trinamool will get to elect four candidates, while the Opposition will get to field the fifth candidate. With Congress fielding Singhvi, Trinamool has not fielded a candidate for the fifth seat. Among the four candidates fielded by Trinamool, only Nadimul Haque has been renominated.
Among those from the TMC whose terms in the Rajya Sabha will end on April 2 are Kunal Ghosh and Mukul Roy. While Ghosh, an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam, had been indefinitely suspended by the party, Roy had quit his seat and left Trinamool to join BJP. The other two TMC MPs set to retire are Vivek Gupta and Nadimal Haque. The fifth seat is being vacated by Tapan Sen of the CPM.
Without naming Roy and Ghosh, Mamata said: “This time, we are not fielding anyone whose tenure as Rajya Sabha MP has ended… One of them betrayed the party and resigned from the post. Another had the opportunity to remain a Rajya Sabha members for six years. Instead of making party leaders candidates, this time we are making party workers our candidates.”