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TMC, BJP name RS candidates from Bengal

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Kolkata, Feb 11 (PTI) BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari on Sunday welcomed the party's decision to nominate Samik Bhattacharya, the state unit's spokesperson, as the saffron party's Rajya Sabha candidate from West Bengal.

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Earlier in the day, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) announced the names of journalist Sagarika Ghose, party leader Sushmita Dev and two others for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls from the state.

The BJP has announced the nomination of 14 candidates from different states for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, including Bhattacharya, a former BJP MLA from West Bengal's Basirhat Dakshin constituency.

"I welcome the decision to nominate Shri Samik Bhattacharya; Former MLA of Basirhat (South) and Chief Spokesperson of @BJP4Bengal as the BJP Candidate for the upcoming elections to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal," Adhikari wrote on his X handle.

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The Leader of Opposition said he is "100% sure of his victory. His election as a Rajya Sabha MP from WB is just a matter of time." Elections to five Rajya Sabha seats from West Bengal will be held on February 27.

As per the strength in the assembly, out of the five Rajya Sabha seats, the TMC is set to claim four, while the BJP will secure the fifth.

"We are pleased to announce the candidature of @sagarikaghose, @SushmitaDevAITC, @MdNadimulHaque6 and Mamata Bala Thakur for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections", the TMC posted on X.

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"We extend our heartfelt wishes to them and may they work towards upholding Trinamool's enduring legacy of indomitable spirit and advocacy for the rights of every Indian", it said.

While Nadimul Haque, a two-time Rajya Sabha MP, finds himself back in the limelight, the decision not to renominate three sitting MPs, Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas, and Santanu Sen, marks a notable shift in the party's strategy.

Ghose, a renowned journalist, is yet to officially join the TMC.

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Former Congress leader Dev, who had joined the TMC in 2021, has been the party's Rajya Sabha MP from October 2021 to August 2023, after TMC leader Manas Bhunia vacated the seat to join the West Bengal cabinet.

Dev, who is also TMC's national spokesperson, looks after the party's affairs in Assam.

However, the nomination that captured significant attention is that of former Lok Sabha MP and Matua leader Mamata Bala Thakur. A two-time Lok Sabha MP, Thakur suffered defeat in the Matua-dominated Bongaon seat to BJP's Shantanu Thakur, a relative, in 2019.

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Thakur's nomination comes amidst BJP's efforts to court the Matua community with promises of implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The Matua community's cohesive voting behaviour makes them a crucial voting bloc, particularly aligned with the BJP's stance on the CAA.

Riding on the promises of the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Matua community played a pivotal role in the saffron surge in the state during the 2019 elections.

Expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve the masses, veteran journalist Nadimul Haque acknowledged the support of TMC leaders Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee.

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"I thank our party supremo Mamata Banerjee and general secretary Abhishek Banerjee for providing me this opportunity for the third time to serve the masses," he said.

With the TMC enjoying a comfortable majority of 217 in the 294-member assembly, including the support of six BJP MLAs who defected to the ruling party but are yet to resign, the party's dominance in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections seems assured.

Though the official tally of the BJP in the assembly is 74, unofficially it is 68, owing to defections. PTI PNT AMR MNB

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