Trinamool Congress will go it alone in next month's Assembly election in West Bengal, party supremo Mamata Banerjee on Friday said and declared the list of TMC candidates which included sports personalities, actors and journalists.
Soon after Election Commission announced the six-phase poll schedule, Banerjee in a press conference made public TMC candidates ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the the Left which were yet to stitch the much-talked about alliance for the election to defeat TMC.
Unlike 2011 when TMC had contested the assembly election in alliance with Congress, the party will go on its own this time, she said. Banerjee will contest from Bhabanipur constituency in the metropolis from where she was elected in 2011.
Madan Mitra, former minister and an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam will contest from his old Kamarhati seat in North 24 Paraganas district. Former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia, former Bengal cricket captain Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, footballer Rahim Nabi, Bengali cine actor Soham and journalist Prabir Ghosal made it into the TMC list of candidates.
Expelled Communist Party of India-Marxist leader and former minister Abdur Rezzak
Mollah who had joined the party, will contest from Bhangar constituency on TMC ticket while the name of Baishali Dalmiya, daughter of former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya figured in the TMC list.
Banerjee expressed her displeasure over the six-phase election saying "The CPI-M, the Congress and the BJP who can't fight us politically always spread canards against Bengal."
"Whatever the Election Commission decided we will follow it. But we don't like it that Bengal is always treated in a step-motherly manner.
"We welcome the EC’s decision to go for six-phase poll. We will fight the battle. But In Bengal, which is a peaceful state, elections are being held in six phases spread out in seven days.
"It is the perogative of the EC. I have nothing to say against them as it is a constitutional body. We will fight the battle," she said when asked to comment on the EC's decision to hold six-phase poll.
Banerjee said, "In Assam where there are communal riots, elections are being held in two days. In Tamil Nadu which has so many seats it is only one day. In Kerala it is also one day.
"The Kerala election has been turned into a farce by the CPI-M and the Congress," Banerjee said, adding that she will visit Kerala to expose the "nexus" between the two parties.
Referring to the proposed Congress-Left tie up in Bengal, she said, "The candidates of the unholy alliance will lose their deposits in the assembly election. Let them form a joint venture government in Kerala."
"It is the challenge of the TMC to ensure that candidates of alliance lose their deposits in Bengal. I want to ask the Congress and the CPI-M why are they fighting against each other in Kerala when they are having an alliance here. They could have divided the seats between themselves in Kerala and formed a joint venture government and saved the money of the EC," Banerjee said.
Turning to the BJP, she said, "It (BJP) is also with them as it does not want a peaceful and secular government in Bengal."
"It is a crisis of existence for both Congress and CPI-M. Had it not been such a crisis, neither CPI-M would have sold its head off to Congress, nor Congress would have done so to CPI-M," Banerjee said.
Asked about possible adding up of vote shares of the Congress and Left Front against her party, she said "nothing will happen. Rather if they had fought separately, then there would have been a question of ideals, but here they have given up everything. Where there is no ideology, policy, nothing can flourish."
"Left Front has an ideology, BJP has an ideology. We don't support BJP as it is a communal party.
"I don't support the Left Front though everyone is not bad among them. I don't support them because of the torture they had brought down on the people for 34 years and their negative politics that has taken the state backwards," Banerjee said.
"I don't understand the policy of Congress, somewhere with the Left, somewhere with the BJP. They are fighting against the Left in Kerala and making an alliance with them in Bengal," the West Bengal chief minister told a vernacular news channel in an interview.
Banerjee said that in 2011, TMC had won 184 seats. Later, it had won various bypolls and some MLAs from other parties had also joined the party.
"Right now our MLA strength is about 200. Last time we had fought with the Congress. This time we are fighting on our own. But we are not alone, we have the people with us," she said.
The seats of some sitting party MLAs have been changed while a few of them have been dropped this time. Banerjee said the number of woman candidates has been increased from 31 in 2011 to 45 while the number of minority candidates has gone up from 38 in 2011 to 57.
Reacting to EC's decision to deploy central forces in each and every booth, Banerjee said, "Why not in other states also? They can send 10 crore police for every voter. We don't have problem with that."
On how many seats TMC expects to win this time, Banerjee said it is for the people to decide. TMC will come out with its poll manifesto on March 11, she added.