With the announcement of the West Bengal by-elections on Saturday, all eyes are on the prestigious Bhawanipur constituency that Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee intends to challenge to retain his post as chief minister.
However, more interestingly, the star-studded fight followed by political strategists has led experts to raise a major question: who will be the BJP candidates against Bhawanipur’s Mamata Banerjee?
Many names of BJP leaders are doing the rounds. Still, some serious candidates are former TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi Rudranil Ghosh (who competed from the same seat and was defeated by Sovandeb Chattopadhyay of TMC), the former governor of Meghalaya and Tripura and top Bengal leader BJP Tathagata Roy, Bolpur assembly seat candidate Anirban Ganguly (defeated by Chandra Nath Sinha of TMC), Swapan Dasgupta (lost to Ramendu Sinharay of TMC of Tarakeswar constituency) and BJP vice president Pratap Banerjee.
Speaking to News18.com, BJP State Chairman Dilip Ghosh said, “There are many strong and effective leaders to compete from Bhawanipur and to name a few are Dinesh Trivedi, Rudranil Ghosh, Tathagata Roy, Pratap Banerjee, etc. names and it is up to the central management to decide who will be the candidate against Mamata Banerjee. “
Importantly, most of the state’s BJP leaders believe that Dinesh Trivedi could be the ideal candidate against Mamata Banerjee, as the assembly seat, made up of 2,026,555 voters, is home to at least 50,000 BJP-inclined voters and largely belong to Gujarati, Sikh, Bihari, Marwari and other communities alongside the Bengalis.
Tathagata Roy and Rudranil Ghosh are also the favorites to take on the TMC boss. Two days ago, Ghosh had a meeting with BJP State Vice President Dr Biswapriya Roy Chowdhury and Secretary General Sayantan Basu over the polls, sources said.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Tathagata Roy was the BJP candidate in Kolkata South and came second behind TMC’s Subrata Bakshi, but he took the lead in the Bhawanipur Assembly segment with 184 seats.
In this year’s assembly polls, out of eight districts of Bhawanipur, the BJP led in two districts and in the other two districts (63 and 72), the BJP was lagging behind by a small margin. The BJP led by 537 votes in district number 74 and by 2,092 votes in district number 70. In district number 63, the BJP lagged behind by a small margin of 413 votes, while in district number 72, the BJP lagged behind by a narrow margin of 413 votes.
In a nutshell, Bhawanipur has a base of support from the BJP, mainly Gujarati and Sikh, which has led BJP leaders to consider aligning Dinesh Trivedi as the ideal face to represent the constituency.
After delimitation, the Kalighat residence of Mamata Banerjee falls under the constituency of Bhabanipur and has been a stronghold of TMC since it came to power in West Bengal in 2011.
TMC General Secretary Subrata Bakshi won the seat in 2011 by nearly 50,000 votes, beating his closest rival, Narayan Prasad Jain of CPI (M). The TMC fought the elections in alliance with Congress. Bakshi then left the seat to make way for Mamata Banerjee, an MP, to be elected to the State Assembly. She won the secondary ballot after beating her rival CPI (M) Nandini Mukherjee by a margin of nearly 54,000 votes.
Bakshi later contested the 2011 ballot, held due to Banerjee’s resignation and subsequent election to the Bhabanipur State Assembly, and won the election.
On May 21, to make way for the chief minister, TMC MP Sovandeb Chattopadhyay resigned from his post.
Under the Indian Constitution, Mamata Banerjee – who lost her seat in Nandigram in this House’s polls to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari – can lead the state as chief minister. But she will have to get elected in the next six months to keep her post.
“Article 164 (4) of our Constitution stipulates that a minister who, for a period of six consecutive months, is not a member of the state legislature, ceases to be Minister. This means that Mamata Banerjee can become the Chief Minister of West Bengal. However, in accordance with the Constitution, she must be elected within these six months to continue, ”said political expert Kapil Thakur. “If she is not elected after six months, then she will lose her post.”
Since Sovandeb Chattopadhyay is an elected Member of Parliament, he must win a seat within six months to retain his Legislative Assembly membership or enter the Assembly through “Vidhan Parishad”. The upper house of the State Assembly led by left-wing parties abolished it in 1969 for “backdoor entry to the Assembly” and Parishad being a symbol of elitism.
On May 2, TMC leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay claimed victory from the siege of Bhawanipur after defeating Rudranil Ghosh of the BJP.
Banerjee personally decided on Chattopadhyay’s selection as she felt he could retain the seat despite his decision to challenge Nandigram and not his own constituency.
Unknown to many, Chattopadhyay was a boxer during his college days. He has never missed a boxing championship, including the International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Association (WBA), even today despite his busy schedule.
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