Eminent economist Ashok Lahiri and Rajya Sabha MP and journalist Swapan Dasgupta were among the 63 candidates the BJP announced on Sunday for the third and fourth phase of polls on April 6 and 10.
Mr. Lahiri, member of the 15th Finance Commission, former Chief Economic Advisor to the government of India and former reader Delhi School of Economics, will be contesting from Alipurduar constituency in north Bengal. The economist who has also co-authored a book India Decides, Elections 1952-89 with David Butler and Prannoy Roy, is the most surprise inclusion in the BJP list.
Mr. Dasgupta will be contesting from the Tarakeshwar Assembly seat in Hooghly district.
The list included four MPs including Mr. Dasgupta. Union Minister and Asansol Lok Sabha MP Babul Surpiyo will contest from the Tollygunj seat in south Kolkata, Hooghly Lok Sabha MP Locket Chatterjee from Chunchura and Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik from Dinhata. The Trinamool Congress has given nomination to only one MP.
The BJP has also given the ticket to Trinamool Congress dissident leaders who recently switched sides. Prominent among them is former Minister Rajib Banerjee who will contest from Domjur in Howrah. Four-time TMC MLA from Singur Rabindranath Bhattacharya (88) will contest from the same seat. TMC MLA from Diamond Harbour Dipak Halder, who quit the party a few weeks ago, has been given ticket from the same seat.
Former CPI(M) leader Rinku Naskar will contest from Jadavpur on the BJP ticket and Manoj Oraon, who contested from Kumargram in 2016 as a candidate of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, will contest from the same seat. The list includes a number of actors — Yash Dasgupta from Chanditala in Hooghly, Payel Sarkar from Behala Purba, Tanushree Chakraborty from Shyampukur in Howrah and Anjana Basu from Sonarpur Dakshin. The other well-known candidates are Indranil Khan, a medical practitioner, from Kasba and Rantidev Sengupta, a senior journalist, from Howrah Dakshin.
On March 6, the BJP announced its first list for 57 of the 60 seats for the first two phases on March 27 and April 1.
Sovan Chatterjee upset, may quit party
The BJP also faced some discontentment after the announcement of the list. Sovan Chatterjee, former Kolkata Mayor and once a close aide of Mamata Banerjee who was denied ticket from Behala Purba, is upset. Sources close to him said he might quit the BJP.
The BJP district level leadership in Alipurduar also said they have not heard about Mr. Lahiri. Party leaders in Singur started protesting against the candidature of Rabindranath Bhattacharya while Rantidev Sengupta said he was not consulted before announcing his name and said he did not want to contest the Assembly polls.