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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Nusrat, Mimi out; Mahua, June, Yusuf in as Mamata walks the ramp with Trinamul's LS nominees

It will be Trinamul versus BJP in Bengal... Trinamul will fight alone, says Didi, adding that if the BJP wins 'you will be deprived of your rights'; Shatrughan Sinha, old party hands Saugata Roy, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, Kalyan Bandyopadhyay and Satabdi Roy in list too

Arnab Ganguly Calcutta Published 10.03.24, 04:28 PM
TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a rally, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Calcutta.

TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a rally, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Calcutta. PTI picture.

Mamata Banerjee on Sunday walked along a 300-plus feet ramp built on the Brigade Parade ground with candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, a first of its kind show that indicated the Trinamul Congress's resolve to contest from all 42 constituencies of Bengal.

"After I am done with my speech I will walk along the ramp with the 42 candidates for the 42 constituencies. You have never seen this before," said the party president and chief minister, asking the party's all India general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee, to read out the names

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As expected Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty were dropped from the list, while former cricketer Yusuf Pathan emerged as the surprise pick for the Berhampore seat. Three other actors—Sayoni Ghosh, June Malia and Rachana Banerjee—have been included in the candidates' list.

While Mimi had resigned from the Lok Sabha seat and declared she did not want to contest, the Trinamul leadership in Basirhat were unhappy with Nusrat, especially about her life choices.

With Sunday’s announcement, the possibility of the Congress holding the hands of the Trinamul in Bengal has been firmly shut.

“It will be Trinamul versus BJP in Bengal. Trinamul will fight alone,” Mamata said, adding that her opposition to the Congress and the CPM will continue. “In Uttar Pradesh we will contest in one seat. We have already discussed with Akhilesh Yadav. In Meghalaya, we are the Opposition, so we will contest there as well.”

In the 42 seats, Trinamul has fielded 26 new candidates, while 12 in the list are members of the Bengal legislative assembly, including state ministers.

Among the sitting MPs, Aparupa Poddar, alias Afreen Ali of Arambagh, Mathurapur’s Choudhury Mohan Jatua have also been dropped. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Trinamul had barely managed to retain the Arambagh seat with little over 1,000-votes.

“We had to drop some of the people. During the next Assembly polls or in any organizational role we will try to accommodate them,” Mamata said.

The Trinamul’s theme for Sunday’s “Jonogrojon” rally was “outsiders”, a barb employed by both Mamata and the party’s all-India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee during their speeches.

The candidates list that Abhishek announced, on Mamata’s instruction, also included the names of Asansol MP Shatrughan Sinha, the member of the 1983 world cup winning cricket team, Kirti Azad, (fielded from neighbouring Burdwan-Durgapur seat). Both of them along with the Baroda-born Pathan, too, can be counted among “outsiders,” a word that resonated several times in Abhishek’s speech today.

Trinamul old-hands like Saugata Roy, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, Kalyan Bandyopadhyay and Satabdi Roy have been retained. On the other hand, Arjun Singh who had won from the Barrackpore seat on a BJP ticket after quitting Trinamul and later returned to the Trinamul again, was dropped and replaced by state minister Partha Bhowmik, a member of Abhishek’s coterie. Actor Dev will seek a third term from Ghatal.

Mahua Moitra, the most vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and who was expelled from the Lok Sabha last December, has been re-nominated from Krishnagar.

Three turncoats from the BJP, Biswajit Das, Krishna Kalyani and Mukutmani Adhikari (who joined Trinamul just two days ago) have been fielded from Bongaon, Raigunj and Ranaghat respectively. In Bishnupur, Mamata has fielded sitting BJP MP Saumitra Khan's ex-wife Sujata Mondal.

Former IPS officer Prasun Bandyopadhyay who had resigned from service last week has been nominated from Maldah North.

“I read one of the top officials in the Election Commission has resigned protesting against the nefarious plans of a section of the poll panel. He had objected to some of the decisions. From this dais I salute him,” said Mamata. “The EC is a disgrace. This election is to make the central government and the central government is controlling the election process.”

During the four meetings that Prime Minister Modi has held in Bengal so far, he has dwelt at length on the alleged atrocities against women in Sandeshkhali and corruption among the Trinamul rank and file.

On Sunday, Mamata responded to Modi’s charges.

Takai dao ni to khabe kotha theke (How could anyone siphon funds that were not released)?” asked Mamata, as she urged Modi to verify facts before making a speech in Bengal. “Did they release funds? Fifty-nine lakh people have been deprived of their dues. We gave money for the dues of those deprived of the 100-day work scheme. We will clear the dues of others too. Bengal will be self-reliant and not look towards Delhi.”

Mamata tried to explain to Bengal's voters that the 18 BJP MPs elected in 2019 from Bengal had done little for the state. The BJP did win 18 seats, of them one defected to the Trinamul and the other MP, Babul Supriyo, resigned from the seat, and is now a minister in the Mamata Banerjee government.

“If the BJP wins you will be deprived of your rights. This is the election for resistance, protest and to drive out the BJP,” said Mamata. “If you don’t vote for us, if we don’t win, we won’t be able to work for you, fulfil our promises.”

Mamata made special mention of North Bengal, where the BJP had in 2019 won seven of the eight seats.

“I want to tell the members of all the communities that we are with all the people residing in North Bengal from the hills to the plains. Remember, they will back out from their promises. We won’t,” she said. “Not a single vote should go to the BJP since they have not delivered roads, homes and food.”

Congress leaders in Delhi could not hide their disappointment at Mamata’s announcement.“The Indian National Congress has repeatedly declared its desire to have a respectable seat-sharing agreement with the TMC in West Bengal. The INC has always maintained that such an agreement has to be finalized through negotiations and not by unilateral announcements. The INC has always wanted the INDIA group to fight the BJP together,” wrote Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on X.

"If Mamata Banerjee had good intentions for Yusuf Pathan, she would have asked alliance (INDIA alliance) for a seat for him (Yusuf Pathan) in Gujarat. But here in West Bengal, he is selected as a candidate to polarise the common man and to help the BJP, so that Congress can be defeated... Mamata Banerjee has proven today that none of the political parties of India should trust a leader like her... Mamata Banerjee is in fear that if she continues to be in the INDIA alliance, PM Modi will be unhappy. By separating herself from the INDIA alliance, she has sent a message to the PMO, don't be unhappy with me, I am not standing to fight against the BJP," said state Congress president and Berhampore MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

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