‘Covid under control, Election Commission can set bypoll dates, if it wants to’

Speaking to reporters at Nabanna on Wednesday, the CM said, “The (Covid) situation is much better now. The Commission can hold bypolls now if it wants to."

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the Covid situation in the state was now under control and the Election Commission can schedule by-election dates for the state, if it so desires.

Speaking to reporters at Nabanna on Wednesday, the CM said, “The (Covid) situation is much better now. The Commission can hold bypolls now if it wants to. But I know the Commission will not announce the by-election dates till the Prime Minister says so. I would, therefore, urge the Prime Minister to be proactive.”

Mamata, who pitted herself against former top-aide-turned-baiter Suvendu Adhikari from the Nandigram Assembly seat, lost in a battle that went down to the wire. She has to be elected an MLA within six months to continue as chief minister. The ruling TMC has filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court challenging the Nandigram verdict and seeking a recount.

Senior Trinamool leader Shobhandev Chattopadhyay, who contested and won from Mamata’s home constituency Bhabanipur this year, has resigned from the seat she held previously. However, being a member of the state cabinet as the minister for agriculture, he also has to seek re-election six months from his resignation as Bhabanipur MLA.

According to the Trinamool sources, Sobhandev might be asked to contest from Khardaha Assembly seat.

Kajal Singh, who won the seat on a Trinamool ticket, died before the results were announced. State Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who was not named a candidate for the Assembly polls, also has to be elected an MLA within six months.Two other seats — Shamsherganj and Jangipur — not go to polls this year due to the death of candidates in the run-up to polling day.

Bringing up the two vacant seats at the press conference on Wednesday, the CM said, “We want the two constituencies to go to the polls soon. Covid is now under control.”

BJP’s Nishith Pramanik and Jagannath Sarkar also resigned as MLAs from Dinhata and Shantipur constituencies as the party wanted them to stay on as MPs. Hence, by-elections are to be held for those seats as well, taking the overall number of vacant seats to five.

Mamata is certain to contest from vacated Bhabanipur seat again.

She took oath as chief minister for the third time on May 5, and as per constitutional law, has to seek re-election within six months.

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