|(Top) Mamata Banerjee announces the list of party candidates at her Kalighat residence, while Sudip Bandopadhyay is mobbed by supporters at Calcutta Northwest. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, March 3: The die is cast. Rebel Trinamul Congress MP from Calcutta Northwest Sudip Bandopadhyay faces expulsion from the party for six years if he decides to contest as an Independent against official nominee Subrata Mukherjee.
Trinamul chairperson Mamata Banerjee made it clear while releasing the list of party candidates this afternoon at her Kalighat residence. Significantly, she did not name a nominee for Raigunj, the seat offered to the rebel MP.
Asked if it meant that the offer was on, Mamata said: “Yes, it is. It is now up to him to accept or reject it.”
In a quick response to the ouster threat, Bandopadhyay said he was not concerned about Trinamul’s position on him. “They (Mamata and other Trinamul leaders) will not last for six years, so they should refrain from making such tall claims. I am going to contest as an Independent from my old constituency, Calcutta NorthWest, and I am going to win it again with support from all sides,” he said.
Mamata’s response to his decision to contest from his old seat was equally bitter. “He can contest from the heaven, he can contest from the sky. The party is least bothered,” an agitated Mamata said.
She declined to specify the reasons for denying Bandopadhyay Calcutta Northwest. “Other political parties have replaced their sitting MPs in different constituencies. The Congress, the BJP, ADMK, TDP and many other parties have decided to field new candidates from several constituencies. We have undertaken a similar exercise. What is wrong in it'” she said.
Asked if it was fair to deny a founder-member the chance to get re-elected from his constituency, Mamata said: “Our dedicated workers are our party’s founder-members. Bandopadhyay has only tarnished the party’s image.”
Faced with a barrage of questions on Bandopadhyay, Mamata lost her cool. “It seems the CPM has hatched a conspiracy. Otherwise, why are the same questions about one particular individual being asked repeatedly'” she thundered.
Mamata announced the names of candidates for 26 of the 29 constituencies Trinamul will contest in the Lok Sabha polls. It has kept 13 aside for ally BJP. Apart from Raigunj, the party is yet to decide on its nominees for Darjeeling and Jhargram.
The list includes six women, five sitting MLAs and three Muslim leaders. Seven of the eight sitting Trinamul MPs have been re-nominated. While six of them will contest from their existing constituencies, Bikram Sarkar has been allowed to shift from Panskura to Howrah.
Apart from Subrata, the party legislators on the list are Paras Dutta (Jalpaiguri), Moloy Ghatak (Asansol), Arjun Singh (Barrackpore) and Saugata Roy (Diamond Harbour). Among the other nominees are Sujit Bose, a councillor of South Dum Dum municipality, for Basirhat, Madan Mitra, a general secretary, for Jangipur, Radhika Ranjan Pramanik, expelled CPM MP, for Mathurapur, Sudipta Roy for Uluberia, Sudhendu Adhikary, son of Contai legislator Sisir Adhikary, for Tamluk, Sultan Ahmed for Katwa, Indrani Mukherjee, widow of former party MLA Swaraj Mukherjee, for Hooghly and Hema Choubey, widow of Kharagpur Trinamul leader Gautam Choubey, for Panskura.
Mamata said the party has asked for the Purulia seat from the BJP in exchange for any of the three constituencies for which candidates are yet to be named. Trinamul’s Purulia candidate will be Neoti Mahato, daughter-in-law of late minister Sitaram Mahato.