New Delhi: Strategising the fielding of its its combatants for West Bengal elections, Trinamool Congress on Friday released a list of 291 candidates for the 294-member state assembly, with chief minister Mamata Banerjee finalising Nandigram as her battle ground.
“Today, we are releasing a list of 291 candidates which includes 50 women, 42 Muslim candidates. On 3 seats of north Bengal, we not putting up our candidates. I will contest from Nandigram,” said TMC chief while announcing the list of candidates.
The announcement is significant as Nandigram is the constituency of her former closed aide, Suvendu Adhikari, who crossed over to the BJP last month. To note, Mamata had contested last elections from Bhawanipore in Kolkata.
BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram with the TMC supremo accepting the challenge extended by her former aide.
“I am going to Nandigram on March 9. On March 10, I will file the nomination at Haldia,” Mamata told reporters.
Mamata said that Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay will be contesting from her home turf of Bhowanipore.
The TMC leader said that out of the list of 291 candidates, 50 are women, 79 SCs, 17 STs and 42 Muslims.
“On three seats of north Bengal, we are not putting up our candidates. In three seats – Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong – Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will contest the elections and whoever wins will support us,” she told reporters.
She said that 23-24 existing TMC MLAs have been dropped due to age and other reasons.
During the release of her list, Mamata urged the supporters to have faith in her and asserted that only TMC can take West Bengal to new heights.
“I thank Tejashwi Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Hemant Soren and Shiv Sena for extending their support to me,” she added.
The 66-year-old CM also openly dared the BJP, which is being seen as TMC’s principal opponent this year, saying that she is not afraid of the challenge.
“Amit Shah and Narendra Modi can send as much force as they want, still TMC will win the elections,” she said.
The upcoing West Bengal elections are going to be a star studded one as Trinamool chief accommodated a slew of Bengali film and television industry representatives in the party’s candidate list for the upcoming elections.
Mamata fielded actor Kanchan Mallick, who had joined the Trinamool Congress a few days back, from Hooghly’s Uttarpara; Soham Chakraborty from Chandipur; director Raj Chakraborty from Barrackpore; actress Sayantika from Bankura; actress June Malliah from Midnapore sadar; actress Sayani Ghosh from Asansol south; cricketer Manoj Tiwari from Howrah’s Shibpur and Kaushani Mukherjee from Krishnanagar north assembly constituency.
West Bengal is arguably the biggest election prize for which three party’s will be seen locking horns this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and BJP in the fray. Meanwhile, the state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is seeking her third consecutive term, BJP has set a target of winning 200 seats in the 294-member state Assembly.
The TMC supremo also claimed to have a support of several opposition parties as they have been allegedly rallying behind her to give a strong fight to the BJP. Mamata said that after RJD, SP and Shiv Sena, the TMC has also received support from JMM.
“I thank Tejashwi Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Hemant Soren and Shiv Sena for extending their support to me,” Banerjee said.
In the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, out of total 294 seats, Congress had won 44 seats while the Left Front managed to bag 33 seats whereas, the ruling TMC swept 211 seats while BJP struggled to win only 3 seats.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, however, BJP made deep inroads in the state and won 18 seats out of the total 42 Lok Sabha constituencies while reducing TMC’s tally to 22 and Congress’ to two seats. The Left, meanwhile, had drawn a blank.
West Bengal will go to polls in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. The results will be declared on May 2.