West Bengal polls: Trinamool Congress likely to drop several sitting MLAs

Trinamool Congress chairperson and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

The Trinamool Congress is likely to axe several sitting MLAs from its candidate list for the upcoming West Bengal elections, sources said on Monday.

The party is planning to nominate more youths, women, and leaders with clean image and acceptability in their area, they said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met the party's 12- member election committee in the afternoon at her residence in Kalighat and brain-stormed over the nominations.

"Today, the election committee authorised Mamata Banerjee to take the final call regarding selecting candidates," a senior TMC leader said.

Nearly 30 per cent of the 294 constituencies, including those of the 19 MLAs who have switched over to BJP, are likely to have new candidates, the sources said.

"Reports by Prashant Kishor's I-PAC on every MLA and their constituencies are likely to play a key role in the candidate selection," another TMC leader, who was present at the meeting, said.

"How the MLAs have performed in the last five years, their image in the area and acceptability will be the main parameters. This time we won't be taking any chances," he added.

Another party leader said that elderly MLAs with age above 75 are likely to be dropped.

"Stress will be given on nominating more woman leaders. Last time our candidate list had around 33 per cent woman candidates. This time it will go up further," he said.

In 2016, the TMC won 211 seats in the 294-member House. The Left-Congress alliance had bagged 77 seats, and the BJP three.

The elections this time, which are seeing a stiff contest between the TMC and the BJP, will be held in eight phases, beginning with polling for 30 seats on March 27. Votes will be counted on May 2.

After having a marginal presence in the politically polarised state for decades, the BJP has emerged as the ruling Trinamool Congress's main rival over the last couple of years, managing to win 18 out of 42 seats in the Lok Sabha polls of 2019 and following it with inducting popular TMC MLAs, MP and ministers into the party.

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