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Mamata Banerjee May Shuffle Pack of MPs in 2019 to Win High-stakes Battle Against BJP

The seats in Bengal might prove key as the Bengal CM has emerged as a key in bringing together the opposition against the BJP and she would need the numbers to make a play to be its leader.

Aniruddha Ghosal | News18.com

Updated:September 18, 2018, 9:52 AM IST
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Mamata Banerjee May Shuffle Pack of MPs in 2019 to Win High-stakes Battle Against BJP
File photo of Mamata Banerjee.
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The Trinamool Congress may shuffle its pack of 34 MPs in West Bengal to maximise its numbers in the next Lok Sabha, with Mamata Banerjee making a determined bid to play a greater role at the Centre after the 2019 general elections.

The seats in Bengal might prove key as the Bengal CM has emerged as a key in bringing together the opposition against the BJP and she would need the numbers to make a play to be its leader.

For the BJP, which has made steady inroads in Bengal since 2014, this would be its best chance to try and stop Banerjee’s plans. The party has set itself the ambitious target of winning 25 Lok Sabha seats next year.

The TMC may spring a few surprise by nominating some new faces and dropping a few others to leverage the altered political situation in the state.

Out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Trinamool Congress currently has 34, the BJP has two, the Congress has four and the CPI(M) has two.

The speculation over seats have been triggered, in part, by a recent half-hour long meeting between Banerjee and Anushila Bose – the daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chaterjee, who passed away last month.

Anushila, party sources said, could be offered the ticket to contest the next elections from Birbhum. The seat is adjacent to and overlaps with Bolpur, a constituency represented by Somnath Chaterjee seven times since 1985.

Ironically, Somnath Chaterjee shifted base to Bolpur in 1985 after losing Jadavpur in 1984 to Banerjee. The defeat had cemented Banerjee’s political standing, making her the youngest MP at the age of 29.

The Birbhum seat is currently held by Shatabdi Roy who won it in 2014 by a margin a little less than 70,000 votes.

Chaterjee had represented Bolpur till 2009 and never lost an election from the seat. His relationship with the TMC chief had improved over the years, especially after his expulsion from the CPI (M).

“The party believes that there continues to be a lot of goodwill in Bolpur for Somnath babu and his family. It is a seat where the BJP has been trying to make inroads and her candidature has the potential of upsetting their plans,” a source said.

Bolpur in the last delimitation became a reserved seat and is now represented by social worker and development professional Anupam Hazra.

Similar considerations are also being taken into account with other sitting MPs, especially those who are facing heat from the central investigation agencies or those who may now want to opt out of rigour of contesting direct elections.

For instance, party sources said, Tapas Paul, sitting MP from Krishnanagar, might not be given a ticket. He was arrested in connection with the Rose Valley case and got bail after 13 months in February 2018. He won the seat with over 71,000 votes.

The other Tollywood stars who will have to pass the political scrutiny after their first term as MPs are Sandhya Ray (Medinipur) and Moon Moon Sen (Bankura).
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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