West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will contest the bye-election from the Bhabanipur constituency in Kolkata on September 30, the Trinamool Congress announced on Sunday.
Banerjee, who is the chief of the TMC, needs to get elected as an MLA in order to continue as chief minister. While the TMC registered a landslide victory in the state Assembly polls in May, winning 213 of the 294 seats, Banerjee lost the Nandigram seat to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari.
The TMC on Friday also announced its candidates for two seats in the Murshidabad district where elections will be held on same date. While Jakir Hossain will contest from Jangipur. Amirul Islam will contest from Samserganj.
Polling in the two Assembly seats in Murshidabad district could not be held during the eight-phase elections in March-April. While the election in Jangipur was deferred due to the death of United Front candidate Pradip Nandi, the elections in Samserganj was postponed after Congress candidate Rezaul Haque died. Both of them had died due to Covid-19, according to The Indian Express.
The BJP has not yet announced its candidates for the three seats. The party is expected to hold a meeting of its state leadership on Tuesday to finalise the candidates, The Indian Express reported.
Party spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya told the newspaper that the BJP’s central leadership will have the final say in the matter. “I am not the right person to say who will contest against Mamata Banerjee,” he said. “...But I can say this that we will contest the bye-poll with the same enthusiasm we had in the Assembly election.”
The Election Commission announced the schedule for the polls and bye-polls in West Bengal on September 4. It said that the last date for filing nominations is September 13, and the last date to withdraw candidacy is September 16.
Votes will be counted on October 3.
On May 22, senior TMC leader Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay, who won from Bhabanipur, resigned as an MLA to enable Banerjee to contest from there.
Banerjee had won the Bhabanipur seat in the 2011 and 2016 Assembly elections. However, in this year’s polls, she contested from the Nandigram seat in an apparent bid to challenge Adhikari, who had defected to the BJP ahead of the polls.
Banerjee lost to Adhikari by a margin of 1,956 votes, though she alleged fraud in vote counting.