The ruling Left Front on Sunday dropped 91 sitting MLAs, including nine ministers, from the list of candidates for the assembly elections, in an attempt to beat the anti-incumbency wave.
The leadership has decided to field 150 new faces and at least seven candidates who are yet to turn 30, a clear indication of the leadership’s eagerness to introduce fresh blood in the formation’s rank and file.
The number of women contesting has gone up from 34 in 2006 to 46.
“The ministers did not want to contest, so they were not fielded this time,” Left Front chairman and CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose told reporters while releasing the list in the presence of top leaders.
However, contrary to reports earlier that they did not wish to fight this time, industry minister Nirupam Sen and health minister Surya Kanta Mishra were re-nominated from Burdwan South and Narayangarh, respectively.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who will contest from Jadavpur, his constituency for five consecutive terms, did not want either of the ministers to drop out of the race.
CPI(M) sources said when the state committee discussed the final list of candidates over the weekend, Bhattacharjee argued a wrong message would be sent to the electorate if the present government’s industry and health ministers refused to face the most crucial elections since 1977.
Among the important ministers who were rested this time are Manab Mukherjee and Partha De, who had the primary and secondary education portfolio even in 1977.
The Howrah North constituency’s Lagan Deo Singh, a powerful politician against whom the party had received complaints, was dropped as a warning to recalcitrant workers.
However, in Midnapore East district, the party gave in to pressure from the local leadership owing allegiance to Haldia strongman and former MP Lakshman Seth.
His wife, Tamalika Panda Seth, was fielded from Mahishadal although a large section of the state leadership holds Lakshman Seth largely responsible for the Nandigram incident.