TMC announces candidates for 291 seats, Mamata to contest from Nandigram
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday confirmed her candidature from Nandigram as she released the list of Trinamool Congress candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls for 291 seats with emphasis on youth, minority, women and backward communities, giving out a loud and unambiguous message of taking on her rivals head-on.
"Khela hobe, dekha hobe, jeta hobe... khelenge, ladenge, jeetenge [Let the game begin, we will see, and we will win]," Banerjee said during a press conference while announcing the names of candidates. "When I say something, I keep my word," Banerjee said and added that she will go to Nandigram on March 9 and file her nomination on March 10. Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay will contest from her constituency in Bhowanipur.
Announcing the candidates' list for 291 seats, she said the party would not field its nominees in Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling seats and would support its ally. The list included 10 nominees from the film and the cultural world while 27 sitting MLAs, including five ministers, Amit Mitra (Finance), Purnendu Basu (Technical Education), Rezzak Mollah (Food Processing), Bacchu Hansda (Minister of State for North Bengal Development) and Ratna Ghosh (Minister of State for MSME) have been dropped along with those who are more than 80 years old.
The Trinamool Congress has proposed to bring back the old Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) and try to accommodate the senior leaders who could not be named in the list due to various reasons. The party will release the election manifesto on March 9.
Banerjee reiterated that her party would get 221 seats as 21 has always been her lucky number. She thanked Sharad Pawar, Hemant Soren, Arvind Kejriwal and Uddhav Thackeray for their unstinting support and added that the Rajbanshi and Kamtapuri leaders had given letters extending their support.
The Trinamool Congress fielded 50 women candidates, 42 Muslim candidates, 79 and 17 from SC and ST categories respectively. "One has to consider so many things before finalising the list. Our primary aim is to prepare a list that will accommodate both young and old party leaders," Banerjee maintained.
Exuding confidence of returning to power for the third consecutive time, Banerjee termed it as the "easiest" election the TMC has ever faced.
"This would be a smiley election for us. We would win it," she added and maintained that hopefully, the Election Commission would function in an unbiased way to ensure a free and fair election.
Before the announcement of the list, Banerjee met members of the election committee that included veteran party MPs Saugata Roy and Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien, Partha Chatterjee, party's secretary general, Firhad Hakim and Abhishek Banerjee.
Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, veteran party leader and state Power minister will contest from Bhowanipore seat. Three ward coordinators of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation — Debashish Kumar, Debabrata Majumdar and Atin Ghosh will fight from Rashbehari, Jadavpur and Kashipur-Belgachia constituencies. Noted singer Aditi Munshi will contest from Rajarhat-Gopalpur seat replacing Purnendu Basu.
Ace footballer Bidesh Basu will contest from Uluberia East while cricketer Manoj Tiwari has been fielded from Shibpur. The other actors who will be contesting in the election are Sayani Ghosh (Asansol South), Sayantika Banerjee (Bankura), Raj Chakraborty (Barrackpore), Kanchan Mullick (Uttarpara), June Maliah (Midnapore), Lovely Moitra (Sonarpur South), Soham Chakraborty (Chandipur), Koushani Mukherjee (Krishnanagar North) and Birbaha Hansda (Jhargram).
Veteran party leaders Manas Bhuniya, now Rajya Sabha MP, will contest from Sabang constituency while Biplab Roy Chowdhury will fight from Panskura seat.
Banerjee challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home minister Amit Shah to deploy as much Central force as they want, but the TMC will still emerge victorious.