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David versus Goliath in mayor's ward

Calcutta, May 10: Mamata Banerjee's search for mayor Subrata Mukherjee's challenger in the June elections to the city civic body appears to have ended in a confidant.

Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, one of Mamata's personal physicians and a trier in elections ' she unsuccessfully fought two parliamentary and one Assembly polls earlier ' will take on Mukherjee in ward 87.

Mamata decided to propel Kakali into the battle after her original choice, MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, declined to contest. A final decision will be taken at a working committee meeting tomorrow.

Chattopadhyay apparently wanted to oversee Trinamul Congress's electioneering in wards 87 and 88, which fall under his Rash Behari Assembly constituency and are represented by the mayor and Mala Roy, the mayor-in-council member in charge of drainage.

'Kakali, who has not won an election since 1998 despite contesting thrice, is a weak candidate. We wanted a formidable opponent for Subratada,' a key Trinamul functionary is learnt to have told Mamata at a meeting tonight.

An agitated Mamata silenced him by asserting that Kakali would definitely fare well. 'Subratada is already a loser. People will reject him for stabbing me from the back,' she is learnt to have said.

Having almost finalised a candidate against Mukherjee, her one-time mentor, Mamata intensified her search for a candidate against the Left's projected mayor, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, in ward 100.

Sources said there was a possibility of another Mamata confidante being assigned that task. MLA Partha Chatterjee could be pitted against him.

Squabbles over selection of nominees came to the fore in both Trinamul and the United Democratic Alliance hours after the government issued notifications saying the polls to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Bidhannagar municipality and Uttarpara-Kotrang municipality will he held on June 19.

Differences between Mukherjee and former state Congress president Somen Mitra sprang up as the latter refused to nominate some of the Trinamul councillors now with the Paschimbanga Unnayan Congress Mancha. The mayor had broken away from Trinamul to float the Mancha.

Mukherjee said he would be able to announce the list of nominees tomorrow, but Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya said the talks were on. 'We don't know if the final list will be announced tomorrow,' Bhattacharya said.

It has apparently been decided that the Congress will put up nominees in 80 wards in the city and Mukherjee's Mancha in 60. The rest will go to seven others in the alliance.

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