The Congress on Tuesday said it will not field a candidate against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the Bhabanipur bye-polls to be held on September 30, reported NDTV.

Party chief of the West Bengal unit Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that contesting the bye-polls “may indirectly help the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] in some way and the high command does not want to do that”.

Banerjee needs to win the bye-elections to get elected as an MLA in order to continue as the chief minister. The results of the bye-polls will be announced on October 3.

While the Trinamool Congress had registered a landslide victory in the state Assembly polls in May, winning 213 of the 294 seats, Banerjee had lost the Nandigram seat to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari by a margin of 1,956 votes. She later alleged fraud in vote counting.

According to Article 164(4) of the Constitution, individuals can take oath as a minister even if they are not MLAs, but will have to get elected within a period of six months after being sworn in. Banerjee took oath as the chief minister on May 5.

As she needs to get elected to continue as the chief minister, Banerjee decided to contest from Bhabanipur constituency, which she won in the 2011 and 2016 elections. To facilitate this, senior Trinamool Congress leader Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay, who won the constituency in this year’s Assembly elections, resigned as an MLA.

On the Congress’ decision, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty said the Left party will field a candidate “as those opposed to the TMC and BJP needed an alternative”. The Congress and the CPI(M) had contested the state Assembly polls together in which they had drawn a blank.

Meanwhile, the BJP’s state unit has sent names of six leaders to the party’s high command to contest against Banerjee, reported the Hindustan Times, quoting a senior saffron party leader. The leader told the newspaper that the list includes names of party leaders such as Priyanka Tibrewal, Biswajit Sarkar and Tathagata Roy.

BJP seeks action against Banerjee for violating MCC

The BJP on Tuesday asked the Election Commission to take action against Banerjee for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct after the state government announced a grant of Rs 50,000 to each Durga Puja committee, reported The Indian Express. The Model Code of Conduct came into force on September 4, when the poll panel announced the dates of the bye-polls.

The state government announced the grant among other incentives for the Durga Puja committees for the second year in a row.

A BJP delegation, including state vice-president Pratap Banerjee and Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumdar, also submitted a letter to the poll panel, reported ANI.

“Very clearly this [announcement of grant] has been done with only one objective to influence these clubs who play an important role in the electoral process and give an undue advantage to the unelected Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is already declared, AITC [All India Trinamool Congress] candidate for the ensuing bye-election,” the letter said.

It added that the poll panel should take steps against her, including restraining her from contesting the bye-polls.

Meanwhile, Banerjee is likely to begin campaigning for the bye-polls on Wednesday. The star campaigners include party leaders Abhishek Banerjee, Sougata Roy, Subrata Mukherjee, Mimi Chakraborty and Firhad Hakim, according to a list tweeted by Trinamool Congress leader Riju Dutta.