West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress yesterday declared its list of Lok Sabha poll candidates, dropping 10 sitting MPs, nominating some turncoats and giving 41% representation to women, including a number of Bengali screen celebrities like Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan.
Announcing the candidates, Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Harvard University professor and eminent historian Sugato Bose - who had earned many plaudits for his speeches during his first stint in parliament - has opted out of the contest as “he did not get permission from his university”.
In his place, the Trinamool has come up with a surprise choice from Jadavpur - leading Bengali heroine Mimi Chakraborty.
Another popular actress - Nusrat Jahan – is the candidate from Basirhat. She was nominated after the party dropped sitting MP Idris Ali - known as a prominent Muslim face of TMC. Basirhat had witnessed communal violence in 2017, and Banerjee had then reportedly got upset with Ali’s role.
Leading Bengali film hero Dipak Adhikari (Dev) would seek re-election from Ghatal in West Midnapore district, while actress Satabdi Roy would fight to retain her Birbhum seat.
From Howrah, the Trinamool has re-nominated Arjuna awardee and former Indian football captain Prasun Banerjee.
Seventeen of the 42 Trinamool candidates in the state are women.
Yesteryear’s actress Moon Moon Sen, who pulled up an upset victory over Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran Basudeb Acharia in Bankura in 2014, has been shifted to Asansol, where she is likely to take on Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, singer-turned federal minister Babul Supriyo.
Veteran state politician and senior minister Subrata Mukherjee has replaced Sen for Bankura seat.
Among the new faces, sitting legislator Mohua Moitra will contest from Nadia’s Krishnanagar constituency, instead of Bengali film star Tapas Paul who was grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rose Valley ponzi scam case.
Congress MP from Malda North, Mausam Noor, who had joined the Trinamool recently, will be in the fray as a Trinamool aspirant from the seat.
Rajya Sabha MP Manas Bhunia would fight from Medinipur, where Trinamool has dropped its sitting MP, veteran Bengali film actress Sandhya Roy, who, Banerjee claimed, now preferred to take “a more sedate responsibility owing to her ill-health”.
From Raiganj in northern Bengal’s North Dinajpur district, Banerjee gave the party ticket to sitting MLA Kanaia Lal Agarwal, who had crossed over to Trinamool after winning the 2016 assembly polls as a Congress nominee.
Amar Singh Rai, a sitting Gorkha Janmukti Morcha legislator from Darjeeling, will contest from Darjeeling constituency, backed by the pro-Banerjee faction of the GJM. BJP’s S S Ahluwalia, now a federal minister, had won the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Shyamal Santra would fight it out from Bishnupur in Bankura district, where the party’s sitting parliamentarian Saumitra Khan has crossed over to the BJP.
In Bolpur Lok Sabha constituency, senior Trinamool leader Asit Mal has replaced young MP Anupam Hazra, who was also expelled from the party for anti-party activities and formally joined the BJP yesterday.
Trinamool’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who was arrested by the CBI in Rose Valley case, would seek re-election from Kolkata North. Another veteran, Sougata Roy, who was also among a dozen Trinamool leaders allegedly caught taking money in exchange for a promise to dole out favours to a fictitious company in a video grab uploaded on the Narada news portal, will also throw his hat in the ring from his current Dum Dum seat.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation Councillor Mala Roy would be the party candidate from the prestigious Kolkata South constituency, which was now represented by Trinamool president Subrata Bakshi.
Banerjee claimed that Bakshi opted out of the race on his own as he was more keen on party work.
The Trinamool will also contest in three seats in Jharkhand, one in Andaman, six seats in Assam and in two seats from Bihar, Banerjee announced.
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