The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM lines up ministers for Parliament

Calcutta, Feb. 5: The CPM is planning to field two of its ministers in the Lok Sabha elections.

In Asansol, Parliament member Bikash Chowdhury is likely to be replaced by cottage and small-scale industries minister Bangshagopal Chowdhury. Minorities development and welfare minister Mohammad Selim will probably contest for one of the three seats in Calcutta.

MP from Bishnupur in Bankura Sandhya Bauri is also likely to be replaced. The party is considering her daughter, Susmita, for the seat as Bauri is unwilling to contest on health grounds.

Insiders said the party is planning to field its own candidate in Calcutta Northwest instead of leaving it to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) as in 1999. The CPM wants to seize on the frosty relations between Sudip Bandopadhyay and Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee. Bandopadhyay, the CPM feels, may be denied a Trinamul ticket this time.

“If Sudip Bandopadhyay does not get a Trinamul nomination, he may choose to contest as an Independent. This will lead to a division of Trinamul votes. We think it will be prudent to field our candidate from that seat this time,” said a CPM leader. A party MLA from the city is being considered for the constituency.

The CPM is more or less decided on fielding its North 24-Parganas leader Amitava Nandi in Dum Dum against the BJP’s Tapan Sikdar. The Union minister had won the last two elections.

In Malda, CPM politburo member and Left Front chairman Biman Bose said the party would field candidates in 71 constituencies across the country. The list of candidates in Bengal will be announced tomorrow.

Bangshagopal, it appears, is being pulled out of the cabinet to silence the party units in the two Midnapores and Bankura, which had been complaining about “too many ministers from Burdwan”.

The district provides the maximum number of CPM ministers to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s cabinet. The second man in the pecking order, industries minister Nirupam Sen, is from Burdwan. Four others, Mrinal Banerjee, Nisith Adhikary, Anju Kar and Bangshagopal, hail from the district.

Sources in the party said leaders from the two Midnapores and Bankura had expressed displeasure about Burdwan getting “too much importance” in the cabinet.

The party has apparently accepted the argument that there should be a fairer balance in the composition of the ministry.

The CPM expects Bangshagopal to win Asansol being the “son of the soil” and an MLA from Ranigunj for three consecutive terms. The name of Anju Kar was raised when the party discussed downsizing Burdwan in the ministry but the axe fell on the coal belt leader.

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