Three heavyweight leaders who switched from Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress are among the candidates chosen by the BJP in Bengal for next month's national election, sources have told NDTV. At a meeting last evening, the BJP's central election panel reportedly finalised names for 28 of the 42 constituencies in the state.
No announcement will be made for now, however, because the time before the Holi festival is "not auspicious", say sources.
Saumitra Khan, Anupam Hazra and Arjun Singh, who quit the Trinamool to join the BJP earlier this month will all be party candidates, say sources. Anupam Hazra, a former Visva Bharati University professor, won as a Trinamool candidate in 2014 from the Bolpur parliamentary constituency and Saumitra Khan had won from Bishnupur. Arjun Singh won the last state polls but was denied a ticket to contest by the Trinamool from his chosen constituency, Barrackpore.
Union minister Babul Supriyo will again contest from Asansol, say sources. He will face actor Moon Moon Sen, the Trinamool's "giant-killer"; Moon Moon Sen defeated veteran Left leader Basudeb Acharia - a nine time lawmaker - in Bankura in 2014.
Central BJP leaders are yet to take a call on Union Minister SS Ahuwalia, the lawmaker from Darjeeling. Party sources say locals in the hill district are unhappy with him and so are state BJP leaders.
The BJP's central election committee met for the third time on Wednesday to brainstorm on candidates.
The party is set to drop a number of its lawmakers from Uttar Pradesh to take on the formidable Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav alliance. But the BJP is likely to go with its lawmakers in Bihar. In Odisha, former BJD lawmakers who switched sides could be candidates, say sources.
With the Congress and the Left Front failing to seal an alliance, West Bengal is likely to see a four-cornered contest between the Trinamool, the BJP, the Left Front and Congress. The state will vote for Lok Sabha elections in five phases on April 17, 24, 30 and May 7 and 12. The results will be declared with the rest of the country on May 23.
The stakes are high for the BJP in West Bengal, where it emerged as a key opposition party after the panchayat polls last year. Though the Trinamool Congress swept the rural body polls, the BJP finished second, with the Left and the Congress trailing far behind.
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