Parties Gear Up Across Bengal As LS Poll Schedule Announced

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Kolkata: The Election Commission set in motion on Sunday the process to elect 543 members for the 17th Lok Sabha through seven-phase elections between April 11 and May 19. The results will be declared on May 23, said the Commission.

The ruling Trinamool Congress will be holding a meeting of its Election Committee at Kalighat on Tuesday to finalise the strategy for the polls. “The date for announcement of the candidates is very likely to be announced after the meeting,” a senior Trinamool Congress leader said. Sources in the party said that the list may be announced either on Wednesday or Friday.

The seven phase vote is not at all a worry for us and we are confident of sweeping the elections. The people of Bengal are with our supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has been instrumental for all round development of the state. However, with the elections continuing for such a long time, the people of the state will be facing difficulty because of the summer heat and with the Ramzan month falling in between the dates,” senior Trinamool Congress leader Firhad Hakim said.

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A few days ago TMC had formed a 12-member committee to chart modalities on poll campaigns in the state for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The committee comprises Trinamool Youth Congress president Abhishek Banerjee, Subrata Bakshi, Firhad Hakim, Aroop Biswas, Suvendu Adhikari, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Shashi Panja, Moloy Ghatak, Jyotipriyo Mallick, Subrata Mukherjee, Derek O’Brien and the party’s secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

In another major development, Bidhannagar Mayor Sabyasachi Dutta, who is also a Trinamool Congress MLA, dismissed all speculation of him joining the BJP on Sunday and claimed to be a ‘loyal soldier’ of TMC.

Speculations of Dutta joining the saffron party started doing rounds after BJP leader Mukul Roy met the latter at his residence recently. Dutta reiterated that he will and continue to remain with TMC, after holding a meeting with the top district leaders of North 24-Parganas in presence of Hakim on Sunday.

The Left Front, which had already announced its candidates for the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats, will announce its full list of candidates on March 13. “We will press for adequate measures on the part of the Election Commission to ensure free and fair polls in Bengal,” Left Front chairman Biman Bose said.

The Congress and the Left is likely to have a seat sharing alliance in the state, when it comes to contesting the polls.

The BJP leadership welcomed the election dates but did not indicate anything regarding its candidate list. Sources in the party said that the top leadership is finding it difficult to field candidates for 42 seats in the state.