BJP not to contest Bengal Rajya Sabha bypoll, says focus on Bhowanipore byelection

Express News Service

KOLKATA: The West Bengal chapter of the BJP on Monday decided not to contest the Rajya Sabha by-election scheduled to be held on October 4 saying the “outcome is predetermined”. 

The party said it is now focused on the by-election in Bhowanipore, where Mamata Banerjee is contesting, to make sure ‘’unelected CM’’ to be ‘’unelected’’ once again.

The ruling TMC has nominated Sushmita Dev, who recently defected from the Congress, for the by-poll which was necessitated after TMC leader Manas Bhunia vacated the seat of the upper house of the Parliament after winning the recent Assembly elections. The TMC controls 11 of 16 Rajya Sabha seats from Bengal while Congress has two and CPI(M) one.  

“BJP will not nominate any candidate for Rajya Sabha bypoll due in West Bengal. The outcome is predetermined. Our focus is to make sure the unelected CM to be unelected once again. Jai Ma Kali,” tweeted Suvendu Adhikari, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, who defeated Mamata in Nandigram in the recent Assembly election. 

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Mamata decided to contest in her erstwhile Bhowanipore Assembly constituency to retain her chief ministerial berth as the deadline to continue as the CM of the state ends on November 5. 

The BJP’s West Bengal unit did not contest the Rajya Sabha by-election on August 9 which paved the way for TMC nominee and former bureaucrat Jawahar Sircar to be elected unopposed. 

A source in the saffron camp said the decision not to contest in the Rajya Sabha by-election was taken following a nod from the high command. “There is no point of contesting in the by-election. Now our main goal is the Bhowanipore by-poll. We will go all out to reduce the winning margin of TMC candidate Sovandeb Chattopadhyay which was around 28,000 in the recent Assembly elections. If we can meet our target, it will deliver a message that Mamata Banerjee’s popularity is downwards even after her party’s impressive performance in the Assembly elections,” said a BJP leader. 

Bhowanipore constituency has 40% electorates who do not speak Bengali. The BJP is banking on this particular set of voters to challenge TMC’s winning margin in the upcoming by-election.