While most of his BJP colleagues and opponents have started campaigning, Saumitra Khan, the saffron party’s candidate from Bishnupur Lok Sabha constituency in in West Bengal cannot – he has been barred from entering Bankura, of which Bishnupur is a part, by a court order in cases that he alleges have been engineered by his former party – the Trinamool Congress – to harass him.
As a result, the sitting MP of Bishnupur is banking on wife Sujata to do the rounds of the constituency.
It will, however, not affect his chances of a victory, Khan claimed.
“I am a local boy, people know me. My wife Sujata is campaigning for me, the entire BJP machinery in the district is working for me – there are 10,000 boys (working for him) and they are getting a huge response. But what is worrying is how democracy is subverted by the Trinamool Congress by framing people and preventing them from participating in the election process,” he told The Indian Express on phone.
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Khan joined BJP in the dying days of the 16th Lok Sabha along Anupam Hazra, who won from Bolpur seat on a TMC ticket in 2014 and is contesting for BJP from Jadavpur this time.
Khan and Hazra – both were expelled by the TMC – are among six BJP candidates in the fray in the state with a Trinamool past.
Khan said there are four cases against him. “There is one case for stealing sand from a sand mine, one where somebody has accused me of taking money promising jobs, some accusations by some labourer. One day, the police entered by home at 5 am, when no one was home, planted a firearm and filed a case against me,” he alleged.
“I cannot enter Bankura by the condition of my anticipatory bail,” Khan added.
He has moved the Supreme Court for reversal of the order barring him from the constituency. The matter is due to come up for hearing on April 12.
The verdict will decide whether Khan can file his nomination in person, or require a special permission to file it in absentia. The last date for filing nomination is April 16.
Khan is no stranger to switching parties. In 2014, during the Rajya Sabha elections, Khan, then a Congress MLA, crossed over to the TMC. Soon after that he was nominated for Bishnpur and was one of 34 Trinamool MPs in the outgoing Lok Sabha.