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Cong names Mishra for Balurghat

Calcutta, March 21: The Congress today declared Omprokash Mishra as the candidate for Balurghat Lok Sabha constituency, a day after he had launched his campaign without waiting for the central leadership to announce the nominee for the seat.

Apart from Balurghat, the Congress also announced the candidates for 20 other seats in Bengal. The names of veterans Manas Bhuniya and Abdul Mannan, who had earlier expressed their unwillingness to enter the fray, figured in the list published today.

With today’s announcement, the Congress has candidates for 39 out of 42 seats in the state. The candidates for the remaining three seats — Burdwan-Durgapur, Hooghly and Krishnagar — are yet to be announced and sources in the party attributed the delay to lack of consensus over the selection of nominees.

Mishra started approaching people for votes in Balurghat yesterday, though the Congress was yet to declare the nominee for the seat. “I am confident my candidature will be announced. It is just a matter of formality. There is not much time left before the elections,” he said yesterday during the campaign.

Congress insiders had said the South Dinajpur district leadership had sent Mishra’s name to the party high command as the Balurghat candidate. “However, two other names also emerged. One is of Nilanjan Roy, the district Congress president, and the other is of Sayesta Abedin, son of former minister Jaynal Abedin,” a source said yesterday.

Mishra will take on the Trinamul Congress’s Arpita Ghosh, a theatre personality, and the RSP’s Bimal Sarkar.

Bhuniya has been nominated for Ghatal, where he will take on actor Dev, Trinamul’s nominee. Mannan will fight against Trinamul’s Kalyan Banerjee and BJP’s Bappi Lahiri in Serampore.

“From the very beginning, the selection of candidates in Bengal had been fraught with problems as veterans like Mannan and Manas had refused to contest even as state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury requested them to enter the fray. These two leaders had even tried to argue in front of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi that their advanced age did not permit them to contest,” said an AICC leader.

With the nomination of Bhuniya and Mannan, Adhir Chowdhury has the last laugh.

“Now that their names feature on the list, it is clear that Rahulji went with Adhir’s views and the two leaders had no option but to fall in line as the high command has faith in Chowdhury’s abilities,” said the AICC leader.