TMC not to support Congress in RS polls

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress has decided not to support Congress nominees, if any, in the Rajya Sabha polls in West Bengal and has renominated party MP and union minister Mukul Roy while giving tickets to three journalists.

Announcing this today, Trinamool Congress secretary-general Partha Chatterjee told reporters that while Roy, union minister of state shipping, would be renominated as Rajya Sabha member, the three other nominees were journalists Kunal Ghosh, Md Nadimul Haque and Vivek Gupta.

While Ghosh is a senior journalist of Bengali daily "Pratidin" and also the CEO of a local Bengali channel, Haque is the editor of Urdu daily newspaper "Akhbar-e-Mashriq" and Gupta the editor of Hindi daily "Sanmarg". Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee`s giving a thumbs down to the state Congress leadership`s plea for a Rajya Sabha seat came a couple of days after she sought the removal of party leader and Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi.

West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Pradip Bhattacherjee had earlier said that his party was keen to contest one seat and wanted Trinamool Congress` support. Asked whether Congress would give a walk-over to the Trinamool Congress or contest the election, he said today "it is for the party high command to take a final call on this. This is a matter to be decided by the party high command." Five nominees from Bengal will be elected to the Rajya Sabha as five seats will fall vacant on April 2. Election will be held on March 30.

Besides Mukul Roy, Mamata`s trusted lieutenant whose name has been forwarded as replacement for Dinesh Trivedi, the four other MPs whose terms are expiring are Tapan Sen, Mainul Hassan, Suman Pathak and R C Singh, all from the Left. On the basis of its strength in the 294-member assembly, Trinamool Congress, with 185 seats, is in a comfortable position to send three members to the Upper House of parliament.

Congress has 42 members in the assembly, seven less than the required number. It is also banking on the support of one independent. The Left Front with 61 members can win one seat. Each candidate has to get the votes of 49 legislators to be elected to the Rajya Sabha. The Left Front has renominated CPI(M) labour wing CITU leader Tapan Sen.

Asked how confident the party was to win the fourth seat, he said "we will have no difficulty in winning the hearts of the legislators. In the past, we have supported Congress candidates. Candidates have been selected by rotation and we hope they (Congress) will accept it." Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has four seats, including an independent backed by it, and SUCI-C has one member. GJM had earlier requested the Trinamool chief to allot one seat to it to represent Darjeeling hills.