Calcutta, March 15: The Congress today named candidates for 11 of the 14 seats it is contesting, including former Calcutta mayor Subrata Mukherjee who has been fielded in CPM bastion Bankura.
Deepa Das Munshi will contest from Raiganj, now held by her ailing husband Priya Ranjan, and Pranab Mukherjee from Jangipur. The list in-cludes former bureaucrat Sukhbilas Barma (see chart).
The candidates for Darjeeling, Malda North and Murshidabad “will be decided in a day or two”, Pranab, the state Congress president, said in Delhi.
Subrata’s nomination from Bankura caught many in the state Congress by surprise. He has to take on eight-time CPM MP Basudev Acharya.
In 2004, the Congress had not fielded a candidate there. It left the seat to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which got 2.66 per cent of the votes against Acharya’s 60.07 per cent.
“We don’t know why Subrata has been fielded in Bankura of all constituencies. As a man from south Calcutta, he will definitely find it difficult there against a CPM veteran,” a state Congress leader said.
Another leader said Subrata had been eyeing Diamond Harbour or Serampore. “Ev- erything went haywire after the seat adjustments that followed Mamata’s diktats. Subratada had to be given a seat at any cost to ensure that he did not break away from the party like Somen Mitra and Sudip Bandopadhyay.”
Subrata put up a brave front. “Bankura may be traditionally a CPM stronghold but I am optimistic. The constituency will be easier for the Congress this time because of delimitation. Four Assembly segments — Onda, Para, Hura and Kashipur — where we normally trail by over two lakh votes, are out,” he said.
Congress sources said the Jalpaiguri district unit was unhappy with the nomination of Barma, who retired as agriculture secretary in 2006.
“We had recommended local leader Mani Kumar Darmal,” said district chief Biswaranjan Sarkar.
Congress sources in Delhi said Lalbag MLA Abu Hena might get the ticket in Murshidabad because district party chief Adhir Chowdhury was opposed to first-choice candidate Mannan Hossain.
In Malda North, the sources said, the favourite is the late Ruby Noor’s daughter Mausam, an MLA. Dawa Narbula is likely to be re-nominated in Darjeeling.
Pranab has asked Mamata Banerjee to persuade her ally SUCI to withdraw the nine candidates it has fielded against the Congress.
“If the SUCI does not, we may have to field a candidate in Joynagar (which Trinamul has spared for the SUCI). Pranabda is talking to Mamata,” said state Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya.