"We have decided to field candidates against SUCI nominees in Joynagar and Kultali that Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee left for the SUCI as it has put up candidates against us in 29 other seats," said West Bengal Congress spokesman Om Prakash Mishra. He said that while former member of Parliament Manoranjan Haldar would contest from Joynagar, district Congress leader Sujit Patwari would file nomination from the Kultali seat.
The SUCI will contest 31 assembly seats, among them West Midnapore's Sabang and Birbhum's Nalhati. The Congress leadership is irritated at this as the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manas Bhuniya is seeking re-election from Sabang and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit is making his electoral debut in Nalhati -- a traditional Left bastion.
"The SUCI has fielded candidates against us in 45 per cent of the 65 seats we are contesting. We waited till the last day of withdrawal on April 4 for the first phase of the polling scheduled on April 18," Mishra said. Asked about SUCI fielding candidates against Congress nominees, Union Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said in Kolkata on Sunday that the party did not have an alliance with the SUCI and would speak to the Trinamool Congress.
A state PCC leader pointed out that the Congress had not fielded a candidate in Joynagar in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. SUCI's Tarun Mondal had won the seat then. "Congress supporters had voted for Mondal because he was a candidate for the Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance," he said. The SUCI has said that though it has no formal alliance with the Trinamool for the assembly polls, for the sake of defeating the Communist Party of Inida-Marxist, it would not put up candidates where Trinamool was contesting.
At a news conference on March 22, SUCI leader Pravash Ghosh had said that his party would not oppose the Trinamool, but the Congress would not be spared.
SUCI leader Soumen Bose had said that a clarification had been given to Banerjee that nominees had been fielded against the Congress to maintain equal distance from it and the CPI-M. SUCI sources said that the party has been winning the Joynagar and Kultali since 1977 without a break. Trinamool Congress which would contest in 226 seats has left 65 seats to Congress, two to SUCI and one to the Nationalist Congress Party.