West Bengal election: Setback for BJP as 2 leaders refuse offer to contest
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday released a list of 148 candidates for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth phases of the upcoming West Bengal assembly elections. In its list, the party named Tarun Saha as its candidate from the Kashipur-Belgachia seat, and Shikha Mitra, the wife of late Congress leader Somen Mitra, as the candidate from the Chowringhee constituency.
But in an interesting twist, both Saha and Mitra refused the BJP's offer and declined the party's candidature from the aforementioned seats.
Saha, the husband of Mala Saha, the outgoing Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA from the Kashipur-Belgachia seat, categorically denied any possibility of him contesting the upcoming assembly elections on a BJP ticket. He told journalists that he is with the TMC and that the BJP named him on its list without even consulting him.
Mala Saha had won the Kashipur-Belgachia seat consistently for the TMC in both the 2011 and 2016 state assembly elections. However, this time, the party fielded Kolkata's outgoing deputy mayor Atin Ghosh from the seat. It is not yet known if the BJP naming Mala's husband, Tarun, from the seat had any relation to these recent developments.
Shikha Mitra, the wife of late West Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra, released a video statement soon after the BJP's list was released. She, too, called the development 'fake' and categorically denied contesting on part of the BJP.
Mitra also downplayed speculations of her joining the BJP, which were doing the rounds following her meeting with BJP leader and family friend Suvendu Adhikari.
Her son, Rohan Mitra, shared the video statement on Twitter and hoped that the record is set straight once and for all, adding, "keep my mother out of this rubbish"
Shikha Mitra had won the Chowringhee constituency for the TMC back in 2011 but later switched over to the Congress. Following the resignation of the sitting MLA, a by-election to the seat was held in 2014, which saw TMC's Nayna Bandopadhyay emerge with a win. Bandopadhyay will be contesting the seat once again on part of the TMC in the upcoming elections.
The BJP has so far announced five sitting MPs including a Union minister as its candidates for assembly polls in the state. The party has been facing protests from its workers over candidate selection, with many of them clashing with the police two days ago outside the party's Hastings office in Kolkata. Activists also vandalised party offices, harassed central leaders, and blocked roads by burning tyres at several places in the state, according to news agency PTI.
Elections to the 294-member state assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.