Mamata Banerjee to contest from Bhowanipur, sitting MLA steps down

Though Banerjee was sworn-in as chief minister of West Bengal, according to the rules, she will have to become MLA within six months after the formation of the government

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had lost the Assembly elections from Nandigarm against her one-time aide-turned BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, is likely to contest the bypoll from Bhowanipur, the south Kolkata constituency she had represented twice since 2011.

Earlier in the day, the sitting Trinamool Congress MLA from Bhowanipur, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, tendered his resignation to Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee, which was immediately accepted.

Speaker Banerjee said in a statement, “Chattopadhyay has resigned on his own will and he has not been forced to do so. So, I accept the resignation.”

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However, Chattopadhyay will continue as the state Agriculture Minister and is likely to contest bypolls from Khardaha in North 24 Parganas district.

Speaking to the media after submitting his resignation, Chattopadhyay said, “It is always sad to resign, but I am happy that I am stepping down because the Chief Minister will contest from this seat. She will have to come back to the Assembly as an elected representative. The state needs her. So someone will have to resign and I am happy that the party has chosen me for this purpose.”

“There was no pressure on me. The party had left it on me to decide and I chose to quit. I shall continue to work as a party worker,” he added.

There are indications that Chattopadhyay might contest from the Khardaha Assembly constituency.

The party had earlier decided that Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who didn’t fight the elections this year, would contest from this North 24 Parganas constituency, but sources in Trinamool said that Mitra is not willing to contest and so Chattopadhyay will contest from this seat.

The Khardaha Assembly seat is lying vacant because Kajal Sinha, the Trinamool candidate who won from the seat, died after the elections.

Sources in the party also said that Chattopadhyay was asked whether he would like to represent the party in the Rajya Sabha, but he expressed his reluctance and so it was decided that he would contest from Khardaha.

When asked about it, Chattopadhyay said, “I am not waiving out any possibility but the final call will be taken by the party and the Chief Minister.”

Though Trinamool Congress has not officially announced the candidature of the Chief Minister from Bhowanipur, but indications are ripe that she would contest from the south Kolkata seat from where she had won in the last two terms. This year she decided to contest from Nandigram in East Midnapore against Adhikari, where the latter emerged winner by a slim margin.

Though Banerjee was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of the state, according to the rules, she will have to become an MLA within six months after the formation of the government.

Party sources indicated that Banerjee had expressed her willingness to contest from Bhowanipur and so Chattopadhyay was asked to resign.

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