Mamata names candidates for Bengal by-polls, BJP to follow in a day or two

Battle lines for a likely fierce electoral contest in Bengal are getting drawn as two of the state’s three main political formations announced their candidates for the November 25 by-elections on three seats. BJP is likely to announce names in a day or two.

If the voting pattern seen in April-May Lok Sabha elections were to hold, BJP may easily win two of those seats– Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar—leaving Karimpur for the Trinamool Congress.

Out the three, BJP had only won the Kharagpur Sadar seat in 2016 Assembly polls, TMC had won the Karimpur seat and the Congress had won Kaliaganj, with support from the Left.

TMC has fielded the current chairman of Kharagpur municipality Pradip Sarkar from Kharagpur Sadar, and a retired school headmaster who is also a social worker, Bimalendu Sinha Roy from the Karimpur seat. TMC’s Kaliaganj candidate Tapan Deb Singha is the vice-chairman of the local community development block.

The Congress is supporting the Left’s Karimpur candidate, Golam Rabbi, a lawyer, while the Left is backing Congress candidates in Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj.

The Congress has fielded Chittaranjan Mandal from Kharagpur Sadar. Mandal is a retired school teacher and former vice-chairman of Kharagpur municipality, In Kaliaganj, Congress has fielded Dhitashree Roy, daughter of the local MLA, whose death necessitated the by-election.

Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur seats fell vacant after respective sitting MLAs, BJP’s Dilip Ghosh and TMC’s Mohua Moitra got elected to the Lok Sabha.

BJP is expected to announce its candidates in a day or two, party state unit chief Dilip Ghosh said.

The Assembly by-polls will provide the first opportunity for the TMC and the BJP to test their political heft on the ground, after the Lok Sabha clash earlier this year saw the BJP emerge as TMC’s principal opponent. BJP won 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal this year, a sharp rise for a party that had won only 3 out of state’s 294 seats in 2016 state general elections.

“I hope the elections will be held peacefully,” Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said while referring to violence in previous elections in Bengal.

BJP has sought deployment of central paramilitary forces on all three seats.

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