Kolkata: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee announced her party’s list of candidates on Tuesday for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Expressing confidence that Trinamool would win all the 42 seats in Bengal, Banerjee reiterated her ‘Modi hatao desh bachao’ slogan.
She also dropped hints of campaigning against the Prime Minister in his home constituency, Varanasi.
The West Bengal chief minister said, “I might even go to Varanasi if Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party chief) and Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party president) call me. They have my moral support.”
Considered a strong face of the anti-BJP front, Banerjee brought leaders of 23 opposition parties on one platform during her January 19 rally in Kolkata.
The next meeting of the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand opposition) is on March 15 which Banerjee will be give a miss due to prior commitments in Kolkata.
A key draw in the Trinamool’s list of candidates is the 41% representation of women, going past Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal leader Naveen Patnaik’s Sunday list which reserves 33% party tickets for women. As many as 17 of the 42 Trinamool candidates are women.
Party MLA Mahua Moitra who will be resigning from her post to contest from the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency said, “Why wait for the women’s reservation bill to be passed in Parliament? Mamata Banerjee has taken a step forward and announced 41% representation for women. This is going to be a tough election and we are ready for the fight.”
Close to 20 new faces are contesting on a Trinamool ticket this time as compared to the 2014 general elections. While some of them have already contested bypolls, others replaced eight sitting MPs.
Two of the new candidates are from the Tollygunge film fraternity — Nusrat Jahan (Bashirhat) and Mimi Chakraborty (Jadavpur) — which takes the list of stars from the Trinamool camp to five.
In 1984, Mamata had contested on a Congress ticket from Jadavpur and unseated CPI(M) leader Somnath Chatterjee.
Former actor and TMC MP Moon Moon Sen, who contested from Bankura in 2014, will be contesting this time from Asansol against singer and BJP minister Babul Supriyo.
Unhappy with the BJP, hill-based party Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to lend its support to the Trinamool this time.
GJM MLA Amar Singh Rai will contest on a TMC ticket from the Darjeeling constituency.
Rai said, “We have been betrayed by the BJP. We have faith in Mamata Banerjee and the TMC.”
Former national footballer Baichung Bhutia who had contested on a TMC ticket in 2014 from Darjeeling had lost to BJP’s SS Ahluwalia.
Banerjee said her party would field candidates in other states, including Assam (six), Jharkhand (three), Bihar (two) and Andamans (one).
“We want to leave the north Indian seats to the regional parties,” she added.