The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata mulls tossing MLAs into poll ring

Calcutta, Jan. 29: Mamata Banerjee is planning to field heavyweight Trinamul Congress MLAs like Subrata Mukherjee and Sougata Roy in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Trinamul chief has reportedly told trusted colleagues that the NDA is certain to return to power in Delhi and the prospect of getting a cabinet berth apart from her coal and mines is bright. So the lookout for the more experienced leaders in the party.

It is learnt that Roy might be given the Asansol constituency. Mukherjee is interested in Calcutta Northwest but the party is considering fielding him in Diamond Harbour.

The Trinamul candidate who lost to the CPM in Diamond Harbour in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections quit the party today. Sardar Amjad Ali said he has joined Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

“I received a fax from Pawar this morning appointing me chairman of the NCP’s Bengal unit. I was slighted for months in Mamata’s Trinamul,” Ali said tonight.

Trinamul spokesperson Pankaj Banerjee dubbed Ali a “nonentity” and said his quitting “would not affect Trinamul”. “He had stopped interacting with us,” Banerjee said.

Sources in the party said being coal minister, it would be relatively easy for Mamata to ensure Roy’s victory from the Asansol coal belt. Mamata, they said, has managed to thwart immediate closure of mines in the area.

Moreover, the CPM and its trade union arm Citu are not very comfortably placed in the industrial belt. Trinamul had captured one of the two seats in Durgapur in the last Assembly elections.

A section of the party also said Roy has been sounded out about a possible nomination. Party MLAs from Asansol Manik Upadhyay and Kalyan Banerjee have reportedly shown interest in having Roy as the Trinamul candidate from the constituency.

Mukherjee, the mayor of Calcutta, may be asked to contest from Diamond Harbour to cash in on the vote base of his loyalists, MLAs Sonali Guha and Ashok Deb. The constituency is otherwise a CPM stronghold.

In Nabadwip, Trinamul is considering Abir Biswas, the son of former MP Anandamohan. The CPM wrested the seat from Trinamul in a byelection after Anandamohan’s death. Tapan Dasgupta, who had lost to the CPM by a slim margin, is likely to be retained in Hooghly.

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