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Congress to field Mukherjee as RS nominee from Bengal

Written by: Staff
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Kolkata, Mar 16 (UNI) The Congress in West Bengal is expected to field former Kolkata Mayor Subrata Mukherjee as party candidate for the Rajaya Sabha elections throwing a virtual challenge to the Trinamool Congress.

Highly placed sources in the party today said Mr Mukherjee would put his candidature tomorrow, the last date for filing nomination for the biennial Rajya Sabha elections, slated for March 28.

While West Bengal Pradesh Congress President Pranab Mukherjee did not rule out the possibility of fielding a Rajya Sabha candidate, the sources calimed that despite the party having inadequate strength in the state Assembly, Mr Mukherjee would enjoy support from a section of the Trinamool legislators to be able to get the required 58 first preference votes.

At present, the Congress has a strength of 30, including four independent MLAs while the Trinamool has 53 legislators.

Elections have been necessitated for five Rajya Sabha seats, four of which are currently held by Mr Nilotpal Basu (CPI-M), Mr Dipankar Mukherjee (CPI-M), Mr Manoj Bhattacharya (RSP) and Mr Jayanta Bhattacharya (Congress)--all set to retire. The fifth seat fell vacant following the death of CPI(M) member Biplab Dasgupta.

Mr Jayanta Bhattacharya, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress ticket, later switched over to the Congress.

The Left Front has already announced the names of Mr Saman Pathak, Mr Mainul Hasan, Mr Tapan Sen (all CPI-M) and Dr Barun Mukherjee (Forward Bloc) while the Trinamool is expected to declare the party's General Secretary Mukul Roy as the candidate.

Mr Subrata Mukherjee, who once was the right hand man of Ms Mamata Banerjee, left the Trinamool Congress before the last Lok Sabha elections and joined the Congress. The sources claimed that Mr Mukherjee's candidature had been fixed on the basis of his ''excellent personal equation'' with a number of Trinamool MLAs.

The state Assembly has at present 290 members with four seats remaining vacant.

A Government notification stipulated the last date for filing nomination on March 17 and the scrutiny for the next day. The last date for withdrawal of nomination was fixed on March 20.

UNI KDG PC SHR DB2307

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