The BJP has announced its second list of candidates today for the Bengal elections, naming 148 candidates for the phases five, six, seven and eight. In this list the BJP has fielded a fifth MP — Jagannath Sarkar. The parliamentarian from Ranaghat will contest at Shantipur. With the list including 11 outgoing Trinamool MLAs, protests broke out after the list was announced.
Overall the BJP has announced 157 names for the state’s 294 seats. Five seats are yet to be declared — Balurghat, Rashbehari, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
Mukul Roy has been fielded from Krishnanagar and his son from Bijpur.
Former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri is expected to be among the candidates and might be fielded from Balurgat. Named as the candidate from Alipurduar in the first list, Mr Lahiri was later replaced with a local candidate.
The name of Dilip Ghosh — the party’s state unite chief is not on the list. Sources said he would not contest the assembly elections.
Veteran Bengal unit leader Rahul Sinha will contest from Habra.
The party also continued with fielding celebrities in this round too, naming folk artiste Ashim Sarkar from the Haringhata assembly seat. Scientist Gobhardhan Das was fielded from Purbasthali Uttar.
Popular actor Sravanti Chatterjee has been fielded from Kolkata’s Behala East seat. Footballer Kalyan Choubey will contest from Kolkata’s Maniktala. Actor Rudranil Ghosh — said to be close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee once, has been fielded from her safe seat Bhowanipore.
There are also at least six Muslim candidates in the latest list.
The party’s first list of candidates, issued last week, had triggered huge protests that continued for two days and had to be quelled by the police with a lathi charge.
Angry supporters had gathered at the party’s election office in Kolkata and even heckled senior leaders Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh and Shiv Prakash. They were joined by protestors from Udaynarayanpur, in Howrah. In the evening, people swarmed in from Raidighi in South 24 Parganas. Agitated BJP workers ransacked the party office at Singur and the BJP’s district headquarters office at Chinsura — both in Hooghly district.
The protest was against the fielding of a large number of former Trinamool leaders as BJP candidates. Sources had said the seats in question had strong local contenders, whose supporters rebelled at the entry of outsiders. The BJP had called it a “temporary situation”.
At the meeting where the names of candidates were announced, actor Arun Govil, who played the role of Lord Ram in the popular serial Ramayana by Ramanand Sagar, joined the BJP.
Elections in West Bengal will be held in eight phases, with first phase on March 27 and the last on April 29. The results will be announced on May 2.