The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata beats Front in poll list race

Calcutta, Feb. 5: Mamata Banerjee today sprang a surprise by announcing a list of 52 Trinamul Congress nominees for the Assembly elections much ahead of her opponent, the ruling Left Front.

The Front will announce its list on February 16.

'We have selected those who won in 2001. I believe they will all retain their seats by defeating CPM candidates,' Mamata told reporters at Trinamul Bhavan after finalising the list at the party's working committee meeting.

Asked if she will resign as MP to enter the fray, the Trinamul chief said: 'I have certain responsibilities as an MP and cannot resign all of a sudden to contest the Assembly polls. But if the party is voted to power, then we shall find a way out.'

Trinamul leaders who were present at the meeting said Mamata would be fielded in Alipore where actor Tapas Pal is a candidate now. 'We can withdraw Tapas from Alipore and field didi there instead within six months after the polls,' said a key Trinamul functionary.

Observers said Mamata's decision to announce the list is a calculated move to stop the exodus of party MLAs to the Congress.

At least three party MLAs ' Paresh Pal, Ashok Deb and Tapas Roy ' who had floated an outfit during the civic body elections last May along with former mayor Subrata Mukherjee, are learnt to still have links with the Congress.

Though Mamata has fielded sitting party MLAs, Deepak Ghosh, the Trinamul MLA from Mahishadal Assembly in East Midnapore, has no place on the list. Trinamul sources said he was dropped because of his 'strained relations' with Mamata.

Six other Trinamul legislators ' Subrata Mukherjee (Chowringhee), Paras Dutta (Behala East), Nayana Banerjee (Bowbazar) Ambika Banerjee (central Howrah), Shibdas Banerjee (Hanskhali) and Nirbed Roy (Tamluk) ' were denied tickets as they have switched to the Congress.

The only new entrant is Javed Ahmed Khan, Trinamul councillor from Topsia and leader of the Opposition in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. He has been fielded against Left Front chief whip Rabin Deb in the Ballygunge Assembly seat.

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