The BJP today said Priyanka Tibrewal, a 41-year-old lawyer at the Calcutta High Court, will contest against Mamata Banerjee in the September 30 Bhabanipur bypolls, calling her "fearless" after many party leaders reportedly refused to take on the challenge.
Priyanka Tibrewal, a legal adviser to former Union Minister Babul Supriyo, had contested the Bengal polls in April-May from the Entally Assembly seat in Kolkata but lost to her Trinamool Congress rival. Earlier, she had lost the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election in 2015.
Ms Tibrewal did score at the Calcutta High Court recently with a big win. She was one of the petitioners in the post-poll violence case before the Court against the Bengal government and one of the lawyers who aggressively pushed for a CBI probe and a Special Investigation Team into alleged incidents of rape, murder, arson, loot and intimidation.
Mamata Banerjee's Transport and Housing Minister Firhad Hakim mocked her nomination. "It is a shame no established BJP leader has dared to stand against Mamata Banerjee. An unknown sister who has never fought a panchayat election has been fielded. I will treat her as a guest and tell her Bhabanipur is Mamata Banerjee's. Please don't be sad."
Priyanka Tiberawal attacked Firhad Hakim right back, taunting his record as an accused in the Narada bribery case. "People like him who got the vote of the people and then they were caught taking money and went to jail. I sorry for the people of Bengal," she said. She had a message for Mamata Banerjee, too, making no bones that she hoped to be a giant slayer. "All the best. To win elections you don't have to be a giant. An ant can cause difficulties for an elephant," she added.
"She (Mamata Banerjee) has already lost from Nandigram. Now she is fighting this election to save the chief minister's chair. My task will be to reach out to the people of the constituency and inform them about the atrocities, torture and violence that her party unleashed on opposition workers after the assembly polls. I am confident that people of Bhabanipur will vote for me and defeat her," Ms Tibrewal was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Trinamool Congress is highlighting the fact that Mamata Banerjee has not only won two elections from Bhabanipur but is also a voter here. The party tweaked the much popular and successful slogan from the Assembly polls in April which said Bengal wants its daughter back for a new slogan for the upcoming polls that says Bhabanipur wants its daughter back - "Bhabanipur nijer maye kay chaye".
But Priyanka Tibrewal says she was also brought up in Bhabanipur, and unlike Mamata Banerjee, born in the constituency.
Mamata Banerjee, who took charge as Chief Minister for the third time after the Trinamool Congress's mega victory in the state election, needs to win the Bhabanipur by-poll as an MLA to retain the top post. The results will be out on October 3.
She had lost to her former aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram.
Bhabanipur is almost as critical for the BJP, which is heavily invested in defeating Mamata Banerjee after its failure to oust her in the state polls.
Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh had declared that the party will give Mamata Banerjee a tough fight. Ms Tibrewal was an unexpected choice, but the party had little option.
"We approached some BJP leaders but many refused to contest. Priyanka Tibrewal is a fearless leader, very hard-working, and an excellent taskmaster. She is a very good orator. We are confident that she will win the seat by defeating Mamata Banerjee," the Bengal BJP chief said.
Priyanka Tibrewal joined the BJP in 2014 on Babul Supriyo's insistence. She has since made a mark in the party's Bengal unit. She was given a prominent post in the youth wing.
On the petitions by her and others on the post-poll violence in Bengal - BJP alleges its workers were targeted and killed by Trinamool Congress members - the Calcutta High Court recently set up a Special Investigation Team.