The Trinamool Congress has formed a 12-member election committee led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to look into the selection of candidates for the eight-phase assembly polls in West Bengal, dates for which were announced by the Election Commission on Friday.
Other members of the panel include senior leaders, MPs and MLAs, said TMC’s secretary-general Partha Chatterjee after its core committee meeting. The members are Subrata Bakshi, Abhishek Banerjee, Sudip Banerjee, Derek O’Brien, Sougata Roy, CM Jatua, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Partha Chatterjee, Chandrima Bhattacharya, and Aroop Biswas.
Party sources said TMC leaders had extensively discussed the issues related to the selection of candidates and planned for the campaign. “Selection of candidates will be an important thing this time and inputs from election strategist Prashant Kishor and his team I-PAC will play an important role in it,” said a party leader.
Kishor’s I-PAC has been roped in by Tamil Nadu’s MK Stalin-led DMK too for the upcoming election in the state.
Elections to the 294-seat West Bengal assembly will be held in eight phases, up from seven last time, beginning with polling on March 27, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said while announcing the poll schedule on Friday. Votes will be counted on May 2.
Meanwhile, after the announcement, a puja was held at the chief minister’s residence in south Kolkata’s Kalighat, during which she reportedly prayed for peace during elections in the state and sought blessings for victory. The rituals were performed by her nephew-MP Abhishek Banerjee.
The election, being held in three other states and one UT along West Bengal, is garnering more attention due to the BJP blitzkrieg which had earned the party 18 out of 40 seats in the state in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, making inroads into the Mamata-led bastion. The frequent visit of BJP’s top central leadership and prominent faces from other states is being met with the chief minister’s regionalism card and “outsider” tag.