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Trinamul minnow to contest Nalhati

Calcutta, Jan. 24: Trinamul today fielded a candidate perceived as a lightweight for the bypoll in Nalhati, a seat vacated by Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit.

The ruling party today announced its candidates for the February 23 bypolls in Murshidabad, Malda and Birbhum.

Apart from Biplab Ojha in Nalhati, Trinamul ministers Krishnendu Chowdhury and Humayun Kabir will defend their Englishbazar and Rejinagar seats, respectively.

The selection of Ojha, who lost the Nalhati municipal elections last year from both the wards he contested, has sparked speculation in Trinamul ranks that a member of the President’s family could contest from the Birbhum seat. Abhijit had vacated the Nalhati seat after winning the Lok Sabha poll from Jangipur.

Asked if Mamata Banerjee insisted on a “lightweight” to make things “easier” for Pranab’s daughter Chitralekha to contest on a Congress ticket, a Trinamul general secretary said: “We can’t say that for sure. Mamatadi may have had a talk with Pranabbabu.”

Industries minister Partha Chatterjee, when pointed out that Ojha lost the civic polls last year, said: “Many people lose elections and win thereafter. We are confident of victory in all three seats.’’

The Congress is yet to announce its candidates for the three seats.

State Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya refused to comment on Trinamul’s Nalhati candidate.