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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Veteran Saugata's 'last election': Mamata behind 76-year-old's nomination from Dum Dum

'Saugata da was our senior when we began politics. But he has always been green and has so much interest in working for the people. Before the elections, I asked him, would you contest? He said, yes', the chief minister said

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 23.05.24, 07:22 AM
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool’s Dum Dum candidate Saugata Roy at the election rally in Khardah on Wednesday.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool’s Dum Dum candidate Saugata Roy at the election rally in Khardah on Wednesday. Picture by Ankit Mukherjee

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday thanked Saugata Roy for agreeing to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Dum Dum despite his advanced age within minutes of the 76-year-old politician requesting the audience at a poll rally in Khardah to vote for him one last time.

"Saugata da was our senior when we began politics. But he has always been green and has so much interest in working for the people. Before the elections, I asked him, would you contest? He said, yes," said the chief minister, who also explained the reason behind giving the former physics professor and Trinamool Congress veteran another chance at the hustings.

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According to the chief minister, Roy has been "the number one MP", whom the BJP could never defeat in arguments in the Parliament.

"I was so relieved that I would not have to look around for someone else for this seat," the Trinamool chairperson added.

The comment — in the backdrop of an intense debate in the Trinamool Congress on the retirement age of politicians over the last few years — willy-nilly revealed that Roy made the cut in this general election because of Mamata's insistence.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, there was a buzz in the Trinamool circles that party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, who has publicly spoken about the need for a retirement age of politicians several times in the past, was in favour of younger candidates. This paved the way for several greenhorns like Debangshu Bhattacharya (from Tamluk) and Sayani Ghosh (from Jadavpur) as party nominees.

The fact that some exceptions — Sudip Bandyopadhyay, 72, who is the nominee from Kolkata Uttar, being the other veteran in the fray — were made due to Mamata's insistence for this election only became clear in Roy's address during the rally at Khardah, around 20km from Calcutta.

"I am getting old, but our leader Mamata Banerjee has given me nomination.... I will be forever indebted to her," said Roy.

"This is my last election…. Won’t you vote for me?" he asked the audience at Surya Sen Sporting Ground in Khardah.

Roy, who has represented Dum Dum in Parliament for the past three terms, is aiming for a win for the fourth time in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The 16-lakh-odd voters in Dum Dum will vote on June 1, the seventh and final phase of elections.

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