Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya

Left leader and former Kolkata Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya is the candidate of both the Congress and CPIM for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, said CPIM General secretary Sitaram Yechury in Delhi on Tuesday.

Bhattacharya, a veteran Left leader and senior Calcutta High Court lawyer, had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Jadavpur constituency. He lost out to Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate actress Mimi Chakraborty.

As a High court lawyer, Bhattacharya has taken up several cases in the Calcutta High Court including Congress leader Abdul Mannan’s case against the Shardha Ponzi scam which he had taken up in the Supreme Court too. Bhattacharya’s name was given as the Rajya Sabha candidate in 2017, but his nomination was cancelled as the Election Commission (EC) found discrepancies in it.

In the past, the Congress party has named its leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Pradip Bhattacharya who have been supported by the TMC in the upper house. This time, the Left and Congress have jointly named a candidate while the TMC on its own is sending 4 candidates to the Rajya Sabha.

The Congress and the Left have a combined strength of 52 members in the 294 West Bengal Assembly. Rajya Sabha polls for the five seats of West Bengal will be held on March 26. The election for the fifth seat will also see how the CPI(M)-Congress tie-up fares in the state.

This also hints at consolidating an understanding ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections where TMC is already a strong force and the BJP looks to make its base stronger in West Bengal. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Left did not win any seat while the Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury retained his Behrampore seat. Both Congress and TMC know that joining hands is the best way forward.

TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee has already announced the names of Arpita Ghosh, Mausam Noor, Dinesh Trivedi and Subrata Bakshi as the party candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls.

According to the distribution of seats in the assembly, the ruling TMC will get four seats in the Upper House of Parliament. A joint candidate of either the CPIM-Congress or the TMC-Congress will have to win the fifth one.

The fifth seat was held by Ritabrata Banerjee, who was elected as a CPI(M) nominee in 2014. He was expelled in 2017. Since then, the CPI(M)'s West Bengal unit does not have any representation either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.

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