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Left Front announces first list of 25 candidates for LS polls in Bengal

Kolkata | The CPI(M)-led Left Front announced its first list of candidates for 25 seats in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls on Friday, leaving 17 constituencies for the Congress. The list has four women and five Muslim candidates.

The Left Front has nominated former Kolkata mayor and CPI(M) leader Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency. He will be pitted against Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) Mimi Chakraborty, a popular film actress. The state Congress leadership, which was keen on contesting the Purulia and Barasat seats, said everyone should be flexible in an adjustment.

For the first time, the Left Front has opted for a seat-sharing deal with its once arch rival — the Congress — for the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Earlier in 2016, against the wishes of its Left allies, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had entered into a seat-sharing deal with the Congress for the state Assembly polls. Struck in a hurried manner, the deal had failed to evoke mass support.

In a press statement, West Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Bose said the 25 Lok Sabha seats included Raiganj and Murshidabad, for which the candidates were declared earlier. “For the remaining 17 seats, some will be contested by the Congress and some by the Left Front. In some seats, there might be candidates who would be jointly supported by the Congress and the Left Front,” the statement added.

The state CPI(M) leadership is in a fix over choosing between the Congress and its Left Front allies, who are not willing to leave the Purulia and Barasat seats, which they have been contesting for decades. The Congress is keen on contesting these two seats, leading to an impasse in the seat-sharing talks.

Bose said it was decided at the Left Front meeting that the CPI and the Forward Bloc would contest Purulia and Barasat respectively, but if the Congress wanted to field its candidates in these two seats, they could go ahead.

Reacting to the development, state Congress chief Somen Mitra said they would discuss the matter within the party and announce their list very soon. “We will inform the party high-command about it. We will discuss the matter and announce our list. They (Left) did whatever they felt right and we will do whatever we feel right,” he said.

The CPI(M) and the Congress have agreed on a seat-sharing adjustment to stop the march of the ruling TMC and a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bengal.

The Left Front has nominated Mohammed Salim and Badaruddoza Khan from Raiganj and Murshidabad respectively. Both of them had won these seats in 2014.

In Diamond Harbour, senior CPI(M) leader Fuad Halim will be pitted against sitting TMC MP and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

In the Dum Dum Lok Sabha seat, the Left Front has fielded CPI(M) leader Nepaldeb Bhattacharya against sitting TMC MP Sougata Roy.

The Left Front has also nominated Rejaul Karim, a medical practitioner, from the Birbhum seat. A doctor at a government hospital, Karim was suspended by the TMC government for participating in a rally against it in November last year.

The seven-phased Lok Sabha polls will be held from April 11 to May 19 and the counting of votes will be taken up on May 23. West Bengal will go to the polls in all the seven phases.

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