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Mamata Banerjee back to trusted Bhowanipore for future bypoll, minister Sovandeb vacates it

Mamata Banerjee left her Bhowanipore seat to contest against aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram, but lost. She has to become an MLA within 6 months to retain CM post.

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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is set to contest a byelection from her old seat Bhowanipore in Kolkata, after losing from Nandigram to her aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, ThePrint has learnt.

Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, senior leader of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and agriculture minister in her cabinet, who won from Bhowanipore in the recently-concluded assembly elections, has vacated the seat on directions from the party leadership, TMC sources told ThePrint. He resigned Friday.

According to rules, a leader who gets selected for the CM or a minister post without winning or contesting an election needs to be elected to the legislative assembly or council within six months of taking oath of office. Bengal doesn’t have a legislative council.

Chattopadhyay submitted his resignation to West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee, in the presence of TMC office-bearers Subrata Bakshi and Partha Chatterjee. Biman Banerjee told ThePrint that he first heard about the resignation from his sources in the party, and rushed to the assembly to be present for it.

Chattopadhyay will retain his cabinet portfolio and be given another seat to contest, and the party will decide which one, said a Trinamool leader close to his family.

“He will remain the agriculture minister. The party instructed him to vacate the seat, as Didi wishes to contest from her old seat. The party will decide on his seat and communicate,” the leader said.

Also read: Mamata Banerjee lost in Nandigram but she will still take oath as CM. Here’s how

Who is Sovandeb Chattopadhyay?

The senior leader won south Kolkata’s Rashbehari constituency five successive times, beginning in 1998. But in the 2021 elections, he was sent to Bhowanipore, which Mamata Banerjee left after 10 years to fight Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram in Purba Medinipur, 140 km from Kolkata.

On 19 January, Banerjee, while addressing an election rally in Nandigram, announced that she would contest from that seat. Calling Bhowanipore her “older sister” and Nandigram “younger”, she said she would try to contest from both, but her priority would be Nandigram. She then left Bhowanipore to trusted veteran Sovandeb Chattopadhyay. But she lost to her former protégé Adhikari by 1,956 votes.

Chattopadhyay won handsomely, winning 58 per cent of the vote to beat BJP’s Rudranil Ghosh, an actor-turned-politician, by a margin of around 29,000 votes.

He was the power minister in Mamata Banerjee’s previous cabinet, but has now been given the agriculture portfolio.

Apart from Mamata Banerjee, Bengal’s Finance Minister Amit Mitra will also have to contest elections within six months. Mitra did not contest elections due to ill health.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: Mamata loses nail-biter in Bengal’s Nandigram to Suvendu, says EC played ‘mischief’


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