KOLKATA : West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced the list of party nominees for the Assembly elections but questioned the Election Commission’s logic behind having six phases of polling in a “peaceful state”.
Announcing the names of TMC nominees for 294 constituencies, Banerjee said, “We will contest all the seats alone as a party. In the 2011 polls, we had 31 women candidates but this time we have nominated 45, while instead of 38 Muslim nominees last time, this time we have nominated 57, which is an increase of 20 per cent.
“Candidates for 16 seats have been changed and there are 94 new faces. Those MLAs who joined our party from Congress and Left Front have all been nominated,” she said.
A galaxy of film stars and sportsmen have been nominated, including former Indian soccer captain Bhaichung Bhutia, footballer Rahim Nabi, cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Vaishali Dalmia, daughter of former BCCI chairman, the late Jagmohan Dalmia. Newcomers to the TMC, former CPI(M) State Land Minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah, Jamat-e-Ulema Hind leader Siddiqullah Chowdhury and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha MLA Harkabahadur Chhetri have also been given tickets. Jailed former State Transport Minister Madan Mitra has been renominated.
Though she “welcomed” the decision of the EC to hold polls in six phases from April 4 to May 5, Mamata asked, “Why six phases in West Bengal but only two phases in communally torn Assam? Why only one phase in Kerala and Tamil Nadu? There has always been a step motherly attitude towards Bengal and a continuing canard. We have ensured communal harmony here and crime has gone down. This is due to the conspiracy by the CPI(M)-Congress-BJP nexus all of whose candidates will lose their security deposits. We are number one in development and people will give a befitting reply while voting.”
Commenting on the “unholy alliance without any principle between the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress”, Banerjee said, “I will myself go to Kerala to expose the CPM and the Congress and deliver a message to the people. What is the need to unnecessarily hold polls in Kerala and waste money? It’s a CPM-Congress joint venture. They could have easily divided the 140 seats (in Kerala) equally among themselves and spared voters the inconvenience.”
Asked about the unprecedented deployment of central paramilitary forces, she sarcastically replied, “The EC can even send 10 crores of central forces and hold polls on 294 days for 294 seats. It’s their prerogative. We don’t mind. But I condemn the attempt of Opposition to malign and denigrate Bengal. The CPM had for 34 years thrived on negativity while the BJP tried to foment communal tension. Haat, haaturi, padmo, Banglar manush korbey jabdo (Hand, hammer and lotus, Bengal’s masses will teach a lesson,” Banerjee said, coining a slogan. Replying to a question about JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, released from jail on Thursday, coming to West Bengal to campaign for the Left, she remarked, “This is a democracy and any one can come to campaign. I have nothing to say or worry.”