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Mamata dares Cong, fields 98 candidates

The Trinamool and the Congress will contest each other in Assam even as they are working out seat adjustments in West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee-led party today released the names of 43 candidates for the second phase of polling on April 11. Rahul Karmakar reports.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2011 23:54 IST
Rahul Karmakar

The Trinamool and the Congress will contest each other in Assam even as they are working out seat adjustments in West Bengal.

The Mamata Banerjee-led party on Thursday released the names of 43 candidates for the second phase of polling on April 11. The party's list of 55 candidates for the first phase (April 4) was out on Wednesday.

"Our supremo Mamata Banerjee and all Trinamool union ministers will be campaigning towards consolidating our presence in the Northeast," said the party's Assam unit vice-president, JK Saikia.

"We have thrown down the gauntlet at the others to emerge as a major political alternative in the region."

The Trinamool's decision may have a bearing on the allies' poll calculations in West Bengal because Banerjee had once said she was willing to give more seats to the Congress in her home state if in return the Trinamool was allowed to contest in Assam.

However, the Congress had earlier this month urged Banerjee to keep off the northeastern state.

As part of the deal with the Congress, Banerjee agreed to concede around 68 seats to party for the forthcoming six-phase assembly elections in West Bengal, beginning April 18.

In return, the Trinamool wanted to contest on 30-40 seats in Assam, where there would be "more or less friendly fights", a Trinamool leader said.

Banerjee was emboldened after her party's unexpectedly good showing in a Manipur bypoll last month.

Backed by the BJP, Trinamool candidate K Sarat won the Konthoujam byelection in Manipur defeating the Congress's S Ranjan by 651 votes.

"We have a realistic chance of winning at least 25 seats (in Assam)," said Trinamool general secretary Alok Ghosh.

"We have been careful in selecting our candidates, and we filtered even those who came over from other parties."