The CPI(M) has dropped three sitting ministers from the draft list of candidates, and included 50 new faces, in a bid to counter its first formidable foe in 33 years —Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
Health minister Surya Kanta Mishra and industry minister Nirupam Sen are most likely to abstain from contesting and instead oversee the party’s poll preparations. Environment minister Sailen Sarkar may, however, abstain from polls due to ill health.
The draft list for the coming April-May assembly elections was ratified by the state secretariat on Friday for the state committee to approve over the weekend.
Sources said there will be nearly 50 new faces, some of whom will replace sitting MLAs who won from their respective seats more than twice. Mishra has won four consecutive elections from Narayangarh in West Midnapore while Sen successfully contested from Burdwan South in 1987, 2001 and 2006. Sarkar had won twice from Ratua in Malda district.
The CPI(M) is also keen to field women in at least 30% seats that the Left Front will contest, to lure back women and youth, who have, over the years, veered towards the Trinamool Congress.
The draft list is likely to undergo some changes when the state committee meets. There is a possibility that some nominations from district committees in Mindapore West, Midnapore East and North 24 Parganas may be screened further before the final approval.
The Left partners may announce their comprehensive list on Sunday or a day later. It was learnt that the CPI(M) will be contesting 211 seats, the Forward Bloc will contest 34 seats, RSP 23, and the CPI 13.
In Bengal, where the CPI(M) successfully fielded nearly 20 new faces in 2006, raising the stakes may cost the Marxists dear. While the mandarins at Alimuddin Street are tightlipped on the issue, sources say a sizeable section of candidates would be younger than the present MLAs.