Ex-chief secretary to contest against Buddha on TMC ticket

Perhaps, the biggest surprise that is certain to trigger waves in the run-up to the declaration of list of candidates is that the state’s former chief secretary Manish Gupta, who served under Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacherjee till his retirement in 2001, has agreed to contest against Bhattacherjee from the latter’s traditional seat - Jadavpur - in the southern part of the city under the banner of Trinamool Congress, party sources said here on Saturday.

Gupta who was the chief secretary from 1996 to 2001, was a close confidant of CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu. After Basu retired in 2000 and Bhattacherjee assumed charge, Gupta had served under him for about a year till his retirement.

In order to field a formidable candidate against Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta whose action of clearing files in a haste is still under investigation of the Election Commission, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s pick is FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra. If Dasgupta is selected by the CPM to contest from his home constituency Kharadah in North 24 Parganas district, Mitra is likely to be his opponent.

This apart, a couple of ex-IPS officers Kuldip Singh and Abani Joardar, former CBI director Upen Biswas who probed the Rs 900 plus-crore fodder scam, are likely to contest on TMC ticket and three or four film personalities from Tollywood may also join the poll fray under the TMC banner.

Mamata Banerjee who has sent a ‘take-it-or-forget-it’ signal to the Congress leadership with regard to seat-sharing deal, has begun to ‘strategically leak’ her ‘master list’ for all the 294 constituencies in the state, sending panic in the Congress circles.
These ‘heavyweight’ names have already been doing the rounds, courtesy aides close to her.

With Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee postponing his visit to the state for alliance talks with Banerjee, the latter has chosen to exert pressure on the Congress by leaking the list of TMC candidates in important Kolkata seats so that the Congress could make no claim on them later. “We understand the game, but we’re helpless as the party high command is strict and wants the alliance to remain intact,” conceded a senior Congress leader.

Secondly, she is also keen to unnerve the Left Front by unveiling selected names before the latter’s scheduled announcement of candidates on March 15 next.

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