Bengal polls 2016: High-profile candidates of April 11 election
Kolkata, April 5: Thirty-one constituencies of West Bengal Assembly will go to elections on April 11 (Monday) in Phase 1B of the six-phase poll which started on Monday (April 4). This phase of election, which will be held in the three districts of West Midnapore (13 seats), Bankura and Burdwan (9 seats each), will feature some known policians and a celebrity candidate.
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While Opposition leader in the Assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra will contest from Narayangarh constituency in West Midnapore, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh and noted state Congress leader Manas Bhunia will contest from Kharagpur Sadar and Sabang seats in the same district.
Mishra and Bhunia are the sitting MLAs in the seats from which they are contesting.
Ruling Trinamool Congress's actor-candidate Soham Chakraborty will contest his first-ever election from Barjora in Bankura district while former state minister Malay Ghatak will fight from Asansol North, which he also won in 2011.
Here is a look at these high-profile candidates contesting the April 11 election:
Surjya Kanta Mishra - Narayangarh (West Midnapore)
A doctor by profession, current Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra will contest from Narayangarh constituency in West Midnapore which he has been winning since 1991. His opponents are the TMC's Pradyut Ghosh and BJP's Krishnapada Roy. A former Left minister in Bengal, Mishra was one of the few known faces of the CPI(M) to have won the 2011 elections (by 7,109 votes) and became the Leader of the Opposition. He has played a significant role behind the CPI(M) and Congress forging an electoral tie-up for this poll.
Dilip Ghosh - Kharagpur Sadar (West Midnapore)
Fifty-two-year-old Dilip Ghosh took over as the chief of West Bengal BJP from Rahul Sinha in October last year. A former RSS pracharak, Ghosh will challenge Congress's Gyansingh Sohanpal in Kharagpur Sadar seat. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has campaigned for Ghosh in his constituency, which shows the importance the saffron party has attached to this seat. Ghosh, however, made the headlines recently for making controversial remarks.
Manas Bhunia - Sabang (West Midnapore)
A veteran state politician, 64-year-old Manas Bhunia will look to win Sabang yet another time. He has been winning this seat since 1982 with two exceptions in 1996 and 2001 though he became the MLA again from this seat after winning the by-election in 2011. Also a doctor, Bhunia served as the minister in the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal between 2011 and 2012 when the Congress pulled out. Bhunia will contest this poll against TMC's Nirmal Ghosh and BJP's Kashinath Basu.
Soham Chakraborty - Barjora (Bankura)
Thirty-two-year-old Soham Chakraborty or Soham, who is a popular actor in Bengali films, will contest his first-ever election from Barjora in Bankura district. His opponents are Left's Sujit Chakraborti and BJP's Sujit Agasti. In 2011, the TMC won this seat by 8,491 votes. It will be interesting to see whether Soham can repeat what many other celebrity candidates have done in elections from Bengal in recent years---win even against heavy-weight opponents.
Moloy Ghatak - Asansol North (Burdwan)
A lawyer by profession, 60-year-old Moloy Ghatak had a hot and cold relation with TMC chief Mamata Banerjee since he won this seat in 2011. The party supremo had dropped Ghatak from her cabinet two years ago and also asked him to resign after the TMC lost the Asansol Lok Sabha seat to the BJP in the 2014 general elections as Ghatak was accused of trying to sabotage his own party's poll prospects. He, however, was made the state's labour minister in July 2014. In 2011, Ghatak won from Asansol North by nearly 48,000 votes, which was the 11th biggest win by the TMC that year. This time, Ghatak is taking on Congress's Indrani Mishra and BJP's Nirmal Karmakar.