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Feb. 23 bypoll date

Calcutta, Jan. 11: Trinamul and the Congress will contest the bypolls in Rejinagar, Englishbazar and Nalhati on February 23.

State chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta said tonight that the counting would take place on February 28. The nomination process will be from January 30 to February 6, he added.

Of the three seats originally held by the Congress, Rejinagar and Englishbazar fell vacant after Congress legislators Humayun Kabir and Krishnendu Chowdhury defected to Trinamul.

A bypoll was necessitated in Nalhati when Abhijit Mukherjee was elected to the Jangipur parliamentary seat after his father Pranab Mukherjee became President.

Political observers said this was the first time Trinamul and the Congress will be pitted against each other in a bypoll since the 2009 parliamentary elections, when the two had forged electoral alliance to take on the Left Front.

Although Trinamul severed ties with the Congress in September last year by withdrawing support from the UPA-II government at the Centre, the party did not field its nominee for the October 10 bypoll to the Jangipur seat, in what some said was to help Abhijit have a smooth sail.

PCC chief Pradip Bhattacharya today said: “We will send recommendations to the AICC for its approval after we get the names of probable candidates from Murshidabad, Malda and Birbhum.”

Congress sources said Abhijit Mukherjee’s wife Chitralekha could be a party nominee for the Nalhati seat which her husband had vacated to become an MP.

Both the CPM and the BJP have also decided to announce its party nominees for the three seats in a day or two.