Kolkata: Stating that the three states which will vote in seven phases could play a key role in the formation of the next government at the Centre, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said she had no problem with the duration of the election process in her state.
However, she said voters in Bengal would not forgive the BJP for what it had done to the state.
“This seven-phase election is a BJP ploy to destroy Bengal. But the party will get a fitting reply. The Trinamool Congress will win all the 42 seats in Bengal. Voters in Bengal have seen several elections and are very intelligent, unlike what the BJP assumes them to be,” she said.
“This time, we have a seven-phase election as opposed to the five phases in 2014. Uttar Pradesh is a big state with 80 seats. There about 40 seats in Bihar and we (Bengal) have 42 constituencies. These three states will play an important role after the Lok Sabha elections,” the Trinamool chief said.
Bengal sends the third-largest number of MPs to Lok Sabha after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra (48).
Banerjee said the list of her party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections will be announced on Tuesday around 3.30pm after a meeting of senior Trinamool leaders.
Party sources said at least 10-12 new faces are likely to find a place in the candidate list.
The new faces will be fielded from the seats the party had won and also from those it had lost during the 2014 election.
The party will also evaluate the performance of its sitting MPs, both inside Parliament and outside, before giving them a ticket, the sources said.
“At present, we have 34 MPs and of them two have been expelled. New candidates will contest from these two constituencies,” a senior Trinamool leader said.
“We will also pitch in new candidates in two other seats where there are celebrity MPs. New faces would replace the old candidates, except for a few, in all the eight seats that the party had lost in 2014,” the leader said.
The TMC, which has 34 MPs in the state, lost two of its lawmakers recently after Soumitra Khan of Bishnupur defected to the BJP and Anupam Hazra of Bolpur was expelled for anti-party activities.
It is likely that some of the MPs would not make it to the candidate list as they have not fared well.
However, a final decision on ticket distribution is being taken by the party supremo, the TMC leader said.
“How the person has fared as a public representative and if he or she was able to take up issues concerning people are very important. The same applies while distributing tickets to those who lost the last time,” he said.
The TMC, which is locked in a bitter political battle with the BJP in the state, is eyeing the two seats the saffron party had won in 2014 — Darjeeling and Asansol.
The saffron party has made steady inroads in Bengal and emerged as the main challenger to the Trinamool Congress and has set a target of winning 23 seats
The election results will be declared on May 23.
(With inputs from PTI)