TMC candidate courts controversy as video goes viral

Kolkata, Apr 3 Actor-turned-Trinamool Congress

contestant Koushani Mukherjee courted controversy on Saturday as a video with her purported comment "Please think before you cast votes, you have mother, sister at home" went viral.

Koushani, who had joined Trinamool Congress two months ago and is in the fray in Krishnagar seat claimed that a part of her comment was taken out of context and put in the video by BJP's IT cell to give it a different meaning..

"I had sought to project the fact that Bengal is the safest state for women, unlike BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh where women were raped in Hathras and their parents were shot at for protesting. The BJP IT cell edited the footage for cheap politics," she said in a statement.

Koushani also posted a video of what she claimed was her original comment on her Facebook page in which she is seen walking in her constituency canvassing for votes and telling voters "Think twice before voting for BJP, you have your mother and sisters at home".

She is also seen saying "In Didi's Bengal women are safe. Don't vote for BJP if you don't want Bengal to turn into another Hathras in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh."

Actor-turned BJP leader Rupa Bhattacharya hit out at Koushani in a post saying "The utterances of the so called actress turned politicians like you make our heads hang in shame."

"An actress should have a refined taste ... If you think that by making such an ugly comment you will endear yourself to Trinamool Congress workers, rest assured they will hate your hypocrisy from the bottom of their heart," Bhattacharya said.

Trinamool Congress minister Sashi Panja said part of Koushani's comments were kept in the edited video but not the entire footage.

Bengal polls: Mamata intensifies efforts to win over Nandigram voters before campaigning ends

Her campaign in the high-stakes constituency will begin at 11 am on Monday with an 8-kilometre roadshow from Khudiram More to Thakurchowk in Nandigram Block 2.

PM Modi to address rallies in West Bengal's Purulia, Assam's Karimganj today

A day before the scheduled event, the PM said that the BJP's agenda of good governance was striking a chord among the people of West Bengal and there was a desire for a change in the state.
PM Modi will address a rally in West Bengal at 11am, and in Assam at 3pm on Thursday.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address public rallies in West Bengal and Assam on Thursday. The events, to be held at 11am and 3pm respectively, are a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) campaign in the two poll-bound states.

A day before the event, the PM said that the BJP's agenda of good governance was striking a chord among the people of West Bengal and there was a desire for a change in the state.

"Glad to be getting the opportunity to be among my sisters and brothers of West Bengal tomorrow, 18th March. I would be addressing a rally in Purulia. Across West Bengal, there is a desire for change. BJP's agenda of good governance is striking a chord among the people," he tweeted.

In another tweet, PM said, "Will be in Assam tomorrow, 18th March. Looking forward to being among the people of this great state during the rally in Karimganj. Assam has witnessed positive changes across various sectors over the last 5 years. NDA seeks people's blessings to continue the development agenda."

While the BJP seeks to put an end to the 10-year rule of the Trinamool Congress' (TMC) in Bengal, it is campaigning to retain power in Assam.

Election to the 294 seats in legislative assembly of West Bengal will take place between March 27 and April 29 in 8 phases, while Assam goes to election from March 27 to April 6 in three phases. The results will be announced on May 2.

 

Input: hindustantimes

Mamata releases TMC manifesto, promises income for all

Kolkata, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday unveiled the partys manifesto for the assembly polls promising a monthly Universal Basic Income for all families, a credit card scheme for students to pursue higher studies and formation of a task force to examine the inclusion of several backward communities under the OBC category.

Amid the allegation by the BJP that the TMC is engaged in the politics of appeasement, the manifesto, unlike previous years, did not have any special scheme or project for the minority community, which has been a major support base of the party till the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The manifesto also vowed to build a "model Nandigram" with the supply of electricity 24X7, piped water and well connected roads. Banerjee, who had announced this recently, is contesting the poll from the Nandigram seat where she has been pitted against her protg-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari.

Claiming that her government has reduced poverty in the state by 40 per cent, the manifesto promised to increase annual financial aid to farmers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000.

Christened as "Didi'r 10 Angikar (10 Resolutions of Didi)", the manifesto also listed projects for improving the economy and the health sector, creation of jobs, food security and providing affordable housing, electricity and piped drinking water to people.

The BJP, however, termed the manifesto as a "jumla" (false promise) to fool the people of the state ahead of the elections.

Taking a leaf out of the Congress's promise of Universal Basic Income promise during the Lok Sabha polls of 2019, Banerjee reached out to the 49 per cent women electorate of the state by promising that the woman guardian of every general category family will get Rs 500 every month, while the amount will be Rs 1,000 for SC/ST/OBC families.

The chief minister also announced a pension of Rs 1,000 to widows above 18 years of age.

"After forming the government, we helped lakhs of widows, senior citizens, and specially-abled people through monetary assistance. For the first time, every family in Bengal will be extended a minimum basic income. Under this (Universal Basic Income) scheme, the direct transfers will be made to the woman head of a family," Banerjee said.

Targeting the students' community and first-time voters, she said that a student credit card scheme will be introduced with a credit limit of Rs 10 lakh and an interest rate of only 4 per cent will be charged.

Reaching out to the Hindu backward communities and castes, which the BJP has been trying to tap, Banerjee said that a Special Task Force will be formed to examine and propose OBC status to communities that are not currently recognised as so.

It will help people belonging to communities such as Mahisya, Tili, Tamul, Sahas, the TMC boss said adding that they were part of the list of OBC communities recommended by the Mandal Commission.

"Along with this, expeditious closure will be ensured for the demands of Kisan Jatis living as STs in parts of Malda district. I will also aggressively follow up with the Government of India for granting ST status to the Mahato community," she said.

Her statement came a day after BJP president J P Nadda promised that if voted to power in the state, the party will include all the 'left out' Hindu castes in the OBC list. Teli, Mahato and Mahisya are among such castes found in the state's Bankura and Purulia districts.

Asked if this announcement is a reply to the BJPs strategy to woo the Hindu backward castes, she said, "It is the other way round. Our manifesto was ready by March 9, but its release got delayed due to various reasons."

"Maybe the BJP has copied my manifesto from the Election Commission and are making promises. We all know that the EC is being guided by the BJP," the TMC supremo said.

On the politically crucial Darjeeling hills and North Bengal, Banerjee said for the holistic development of Terai- Dooars region, the state government will set up a Special Development Board which will have proportional representation from all communities of the area.

The manifesto promised that in the coming days, a new facility under the state governments Khadya Sathi scheme will ensure delivery of monthly ration to 1.5 crore families at their doorstep.

Amid the criticism that her government did not allow the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in the state, Banerjee promised to increase the annual aid to 68 lakh small and marginal farmers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 under the Krishak Bandhu Scheme.

Under the central scheme, farmers get Rs 6,000 a year.

Promising 5 lakh jobs every year, the chief minister said that the TMC government in its third term would add 2,000 big industrial units to the existing base of 10,000 units in the next five years.

"We will set up 10 lakh new MSMEs and 2000 new big industrial units in the next five years. New investments worth Rs 5 lakh crore will come in the next five years," she said.

While promising affordable housing, the manifesto stated that under the Bengal Awas Yojana, an additional 25 lakh low-cost houses will be built, and each house will have tap water facility and an improved drainage system.

"Five lakh more low-cost houses will be built under the Banglar Bari scheme in urban areas to reduce slum population from 7 per cent to 3.65 per cent," it said.

Amid criticism by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the state's dismal performance in the Jal Jeevan Mission scheme, the manifesto promised piped drinking water facilities to 47 lakh households to ensure 100 per cent coverage.

The BJP, however, claimed that the TMC' manifesto is nothing but an effort by the ruling party to hoodwink people.

"From the promises, it seems they have done nothing in the last 10 years. Now, ahead of the assembly polls, they are trying to fool the masses. But people will give the TMC a befitting reply in the election," BJP state spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.

CM Mamata Banerjee to hold roadshow on wheelchair in Kolkata

Elections to 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will conduct a roadshow, days after sustaining injuries during election campaigning, on a wheelchair from Gandhi Murti to Hazra here on Sunday, Trinamool Congress (TMC) party sources said. She will address a public rally at Hazra this afternoon. It will be her first public appearance after she was allegedly attacked by some people in Nandigram earlier this week.

On March 10, the Chief Minister, who was on a two-day visit to Nandigram from where she filed her nomination, alleged that she was pushed by a few unidentified people during her election campaigning. Later, she was brought to Kolkata's SSKM Hospital by road from Nandigram.

Banerjee sustained "severe bone injuries" on her left foot and ankle as well as bruises and injuries on her shoulder, forearm and neck, according to the report of her initial medical examination.

The Chief Minister was discharged from the hospital on March 12.

"Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has responded well to the treatment. The six-member board has re-examined her health condition. We have opened the plaster cast. Fresh plaster has been applied. She has been discharged with appropriate instructions, after her repeated requests. She has been advised to revisit after seven days," the medical board of the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata told reporters.

On Friday, a delegation of six MPs of Trinamool Congress (TMC) met the Election Commission officials in the national capital to raise their concern over the Nandigram incident. "The events/actions leading up to the attempt on her life, leave no doubt that the attack was premeditated and part of a deep-rooted conspiracy," read a letter by the TMC to the Election Commission.

A BJP delegation also met the Election Commission of India and demanded an impartial probe into an alleged attack on Mamata Banerjee.

Commenting on the incident, West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused Mamata Banerjee of resorting to 'nautanki' (theatrics), "This is 'siyasi pakhand' (hypocrisy) to gain sympathy. Before polls, she (Mamata Banerjee) planned this 'nautanki' after sensing difficulties in Nandigram," Chowdhury had said.

West Bengal is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and the BJP in the fray.

Elections to 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.

(With ANI inputs)

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Mamata releases message from hospital, says, 'Please be calm'

In her message, Mamata said she will not be rescheduling her election work as she hopes to get fine within two to three days.

A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was allegedly attacked in Nandigram, she released a video message urging people, party workers to be calm and exercise restraint. She also said she will not be affecting her election work for the injury but will have to remain wheel-chair-bound for some time.

"It's true that I have been injured severely yesterday. I have pain in my hand, leg. There are ligament injuries too. Yesterday, I experienced pain in my head and chest. I was offering my prayer at that time. There was such a massive push that my leg got squeezed by the car," Mamata can be seen saying in the video.

"Will request everyone to be calm and exercise restraint. Don't do anything to inconvenience others. I hope to get back to my work within two to three days. I will have some problem working but I will manage. Won't cancel my meetings. But probably I will remain in the wheelchair for some time. Please cooperate with me," the Trinamool supremo said from the hospital.

The video was shared on Twitter by the All India Trinamool Congress on Thursday.

After the episode, Mamata was brought to Kolkata's SSKM hospital through a green corridor and has been admitted since then. SSKM director Monimoy Banerjee said Banerjee has a severe bone injury in her left ankle. "There were marks of injury in her right shoulder, right forearm and neck. She was complaining of chest pain and had trouble breathing," the director said.

Mamata's video can be seen as a message to her party workers who blocked trains near Kadambagachi station on the Sealdah–Hasnabad line to protest against the attack.

Input: hindustantimes

TMC seeks adjournment of Parliament session, cites elections in five states

New Delhi, Mar 8: The Trinamool Congress on Monday sought an adjournment of the Parliament session citing assembly elections in five states of the country.

In a letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairman, TMC national spokesperson and RS member Derek O'Brien said due to the polls, MPs of his party would not be able to attend the Parliament session.

"I am writing to you as the Parliamentary Party leader (Rajya Sabha) for the All India Trinamool Congress. Sir, we urge you to consider the adjournment of the ensuing Parliament session, because of the declaration of elections in five states," he said.

"The Election Commission of India, on 26th February 2021, has announced election for five states, including Bengal. Due to the ongoing intensive election preparations in the State, the Members of Parliament from the All India Trinamool Congress would find it difficult to attend the second part of the Budget Session beginning from 8th March 2021," he wrote in the letter.

TMC MP Sudeep Bandyopadhyay has also written to the Lok Sabha Speaker on the same issue, requesting that Parliament be adjourned due to the polls. While O'Brien's letter is dated March 8, Bandyopadhyay had written to the LS Speaker on February 6.

The second part of the Budget session of Parliament began on Monday but its duration is likely to be curtailed as most top politicians would be busy campaigning for assembly polls taking place in March-April.

As of now, the session will conclude on April 8.

O'Brien, in his letter, mentioned two precedents when Parliament sessions were adjourned due to polls in states.

He cited the example of the 222nd session which commenced on February 21, 2011, and was scheduled to conclude on April 21, 2011. However, due to upcoming state assembly elections in five states -- Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the House was adjourned sine die on March 25, 2011, he said.

The second instance he provided was the 214th session which commenced on October 17, 2008, and was adjourned early on October 24, 2008, to meet again on 10 December 2008. The session, as per the original schedule, was to continue up to November 21, 2008. However, due to upcoming state assembly elections in some states, the House was adjourned till December 10, 2008. "I am optimistic you will consider this proposal of ours," the TMC leader said.

 

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West Bengal Polls: It’s Suvendu Adhikari vs Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram

It’s Suvendu Adhikari vs Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram

Kolkata: The party’s general secretary also announced the names of 56 candidates for the assembly elections out of which 6 candidates were given to women.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Suvendu Adhikari will contest against chief minister Mamata Banerjee from his home turf of Nandigram in the West Bengal assembly elections to be held later this month, setting the stage for one of the most-watched electoral battles in the state, the BJP announced on Saturday. Adhikari’s name figured in the opposition party’s first list of 57 candidates for the March-April assembly elections, out of which six are women and one seat has been given to the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU).

The BJP’s candidates’ list came a day after the Trinamool Congress chief declared the names of those who will contest in the eight-phase polls in the state from March 27.

Banerjee had on Friday announced that she will also be contesting from Nandigram. Adhikari, who joined the BJP last year, had said that he will leave no stone unturned to defeat the Trinamool Congress government in the state. Adhikari also said that if he does not defeat Banerjee by more than 50,000 votes then he would quit politics.

“Write this down and mention the date and time. I will leave politics if I cannot defeat her by half lakh (50,000) votes,” Adhikari had during a rally in south Kolkata. He had also asked the Bengal chief minister to prepare a letterhead with ‘former chief minister’ written on it.

The battle for Nandigram is important as it was vital for the rise of the Trinamool Congress a decade earlier and Suvendu Adhikari and his brother Soumendu Adhikari had played a huge role in the anti-land acquisition movement based on which the TMC defeated the Left Front government in 2011.

Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari in 2007 had spearheaded the anti-land acquisition which catapulted the Trinamool Congress to political prominence and after which it won the panchayat elections in 2008, Lok Sabha elections in 2009, municipal polls in 2010 and recorded a huge victory ousting the Left Front government from power in the 2011 legislative assembly elections. Adhikari was vital for that win because he and his family were instrumental in expanding TMC’s base in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura which were formerly Left Front’s bastions.

"I have recently been to Durgapur and I have seen that people are seeking a change. They want to break free from the tyranny of the current government," the BJP's general secretary Arun Singh said on Saturday while releasing the candidates' list.

The BJP’s list also featured former Bengal cricketer Ashok Dinda and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Bharati Ghosh. Elections in the eastern state will be held in eight phases from March 27. The votes will be counted on May 2.

Input: hindustantimes

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PM Modi to Bengal BJP leaders: Ensure no name-calling during campaign

A senior party leader that they were asked not to indulge in name-calling or negativity to counter the diatribe against the party and its leaders from the ruling TMC.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP National President JP Nadda during the election committee meeting for Assam Assembly elections, at BJP Headquarters in New Delhi, Thursday, March 04, 2021. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)(PTI03_04_2021_000199A)

Amid the high-pitched campaign in West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his party colleagues to see to it that the BJP does not indulge in name-calling or abuses and keep the campaigning positive, according to sources.

The Prime Minister, who held one-on-one meetings with senior leaders at the BJP headquarters on Thursday evening to understand “the real picture on the ground”, has urged the leaders to ensure that the narrative in the party’s campaign is not vitiated, the sources said.

“The Prime Minister asked us not to indulge in name-calling or negativity to counter the diatribe against the party and its leaders from the ruling TMC. He asked each one of us to see to it that the BJP’s campaign is civilised,” said a senior party leader who was part of the central election committee meeting on Thursday.

During the marathon meeting that began at 6 pm on Thursday, Modi held one-on-one meetings with each senior leader.

“He wanted us to give him the real picture, our limitations and drawbacks in the campaign so far. He asked to brief him honestly. He asked us to speak about the drawbacks before we talk about the advantages and the gains we have made so far,” said the leader.

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In the party’s central election committee meeting, the BJP finalised candidates for almost all the 38 seats where polling will be held in the first phase of election in West Bengal on March 27.

Party sources said no party MP is contesting in the first phase, but did not rule out the possibility of some MPs being fielded. “With each seat important, if an MP is a sure winner in a particular seat, why should he or she not be fielded?” asked a party leader.

The BJP is unlikely to allow senior leader Mukul Roy, who left the TMC and joined the BJP in 2017 and currently holds a vice-president post in the party, to contest even though he is keen to do so. Roy is expected to continue in the organisation role, sources said.

Input: indianexpress

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Mamata Banerjee likely to announce TMC candidate list for Bengal polls today

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is expected to announce the list of all candidates in the fray for the upcoming Assembly elections in West Bengal.

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to announce the list of candidates for all 294 Assembly seats in one go for the upcoming elections in the state. The list is likely to have more women candidates and younger and new faces with a clean record.

The TMC has held back-to-back meetings in the last few days to finalise the contenders' list. The party leaders have decided not to give tickets to people above the age of 80.

Reports suggest that many sitting MLAs -- almost 75 -- according to the sources, may be dropped from the list in an effort to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegation that the party promotes "cut money" culture in the execution of government programmes.

The TMC is fighting the elections on the theme of ‘Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chai’ (Bengal wants its own daughter). It is expected to field over 35 per cent women candidates.

For the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee had declared a 40.5 per cent quota for women TMC candidates. Of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, the TMC had given tickets to 17 women candidates.

On January 18, the CM had announced that she would contest the polls from Nandigram as well as Bhowanipur seats in the upcoming Assembly poll in 2021. She will likely fight against defected MLA Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram.

Elections in Bengal will be held in eight phases on March 27, April 1, 6, 10, 17, 22,  26 and 29, making it the longest ever polls in the state. The votes will be counted on May 2.

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