Setting the stage for a high-octane political battle, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Friday released the candidates list for 291 assembly seats in the state. The remaining three seats in Darjeeling will be contested by Trinamool allies. The party will not be putting up candidates there, she said.
"Only Trinamool Congress can take Bengal to new heights," Banerjee said.
Adding star power to the list, the Trinamool chief accommodated a slew of Bengali film and television industry representatives in the party candidates list for the upcoming state assembly polls.
The Trinamool chief also announced that she will be contesting from East Midnapore's Nandigram seat. "I will contest from Nandigram. I keep my promises," she said while releasing the list here at her Kalighat residence, urging people to have faith in her.
The list of 291 TMC candidates included 50 women, 42 Muslim candidates and a slew of Bengal's Tollywood celebrities who had joined the Trinamool bandwagon recently.
Banerjee said that she will contest from East Midnapore's Nandigram this time. "I am going to Nandigram on 9th March. On 10th March, I will file the nomination at Haldia," she said.
State power minister and Trinamool Congress veteran Sovandeb Chatterjee will contest from the Bhawanipore seat as Mamata chose to contest from Nandigram. Ex-Trinamool councillor Debashis Kumar will contest from Rashbihari seat, in place of Chatterjee.
The Trinamool supremo also fielded actor Kanchan Mallick, who had joined the Trinamool Congress a few days back, from Hooghly's Uttarpara, actor Chiranjeet Chakraborty will contest from Barasat, Soham Chakraborty from Chandipur, director Raj Chakraborty from Barrackpore, actress Sayantika from Bankura, June Malliah from Midnapore Sadar, Sayani Ghosh from Asansol-South, cricketer Manoj Tiwari from Howrah's Shibpur, Lovely Maitra will contest from Sonarpur South and Kaushani Mukherjee from Krishnanagar-North assembly constituency.
"I have given importance to young people this time while choosing the name of candidates. They all are young people. We have given assembly poll tickets to eminent personalities from the field of arts, sports, media and culture," Banerjee said.
She said that as many as 23-24 existing Trinamool legislators have been dropped from the candidate list owing to age-related issues and other reasons.
Former Congress leader and Jadavpur University professor Om Prakash Mishra will contest from Siliguri on a Trinamool ticket.
Banerjee also thanked Tejashwi Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Hemant Soren and Shiv Sena for extending their support to the Trinamool Congress in the upcoming state assembly elections.
West Bengal will go to polls in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. Counting of votes will take place on May 2.