West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Wednesday said that the party’s state unit has shortlisted on an average of 4-5 names per seat for the initial two phases of polling in the state and the list of candidates for those phases will be finalised on March 4. The party’s Central Election Committee (CEC) that makes the decision of who will contest from which constituency will meet in New Delhi on Thursday to finalise the candidates’ list for 60 seats.
Polling will be held in 30 seats each on March 27 and April 1. One of the constituencies going to polls in the second phase is Nandigram from where Trinamool Congress supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to contest. “We have received 120-140 names from our district units for the first two phases. In addition to that, there are hundreds of other names. We had 20-25 names for each seat and from that, we have shortlisted around 4-5 names per seat.
There will be some more omission and after that, it is for the party leadership to decide,” Ghosh said. “This reflects that people from various walks of life are very eager to join us,” he told reporters.
Elections in Bengal, poised to be a tough contest between the TMC and the BJP, will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. Votes will be counted on May 2. According to state BJP sources, the party has decided to field many young faces and professionals during its recent two-day core committee meeting.
Apart from the 19 TMC MLAs, including former ministers Rajib Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari who are most likely to get tickets from their old constituencies, the saffron camp is also expected to nominate several personalities from the Bengali film industry. Ghosh’s name is also doing the rounds for the Kharagpur Sadar seat which he had won in 2016 before resigning in 2019 after getting elected to the Lok Sabha, and Gopiballupur seat, the sources said.
The BJP later lost the Kharagpur Sadar seat to the TMC during a by-poll. The party, however, is in two minds on whether to field Adhikari from the Nandigram seat or not. He was the MLA of this seat before resigning and joining the saffron party in December last year.
After having a limited presence in the politically polarised state for decades, the BJP has emerged as the ruling TMCs main rival by winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the 2019 general elections. With the BJP’s strength increasing in the state in the last few years, its leaders are upbeat that the party will end Mamata Banerjee’s 10-year rule in the assembly polls.