Embarrassment for BJP as its candidate for bypoll in Bengal says she’s loyal to Mamata Banerjee

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The BJP was left red-faced in West Bengal on Monday its candidate for the Noapara assembly bypoll candidate, Manju Basu, turned down the offer to contest elections on saffron party’s ticket.

The BJP central leadership had announced Basu’s name as the party’s candidate for the byelection yesterday evening. Hours later, Basu told reporters that she is still with the TMC, reported PTI. “I am a loyal soldier of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. I am still with the TMC and have full faith on Mamata Banerjee,” Basu was quoted as saying.

The BJP sources said that Basu had given a missed call to the party’s toll-free number to get a membership. There was no official announcement on her joining the saffron party. The two-time TMC MLA from Noapara assembly seat, however, chose to speak little on the matter and said it was her personal decision to decline the BJP’s offer. “You can have offers from various political parties. But whether you will accept it or not is a personal decision.”

Basu, known to be a close associate of Mukul Roy during his stint with the TMC, was seen holding regular talks with the BJP in the past few days after being denied a ticket from the seat by the Mamata Banerjee-led party. A senior BJP leader claimed that Roy, who had joined the saffron party in November last year, had pitched for Basu even as a section of state BJP leadership was not very keen on giving her the ticket.

A visibly-embarrassed BJP tried to put up a brave face and accused the ruling party of arm-twisting its candidate. “We were aware that she was being threatened by the TMC. That’s the reason… She was forced to backtrack,” BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said.

An embarrassed BJP has now announced the name of new candidate for the by-election. Sandeep Banerjee will now replace Basu for the 29 January poll. It also named Anupam Mallick as its candidate for the Uluberia Lok Sabha bypoll, which will be held the same day, reported Indian Express.

The TMC has announced the name of Sunil Singh as its candidate from Noapara. The Noapara assembly seat fell vacant following the death of Congress MLA Madhusudan Ghose a few months ago. The bypoll has been scheduled for 29 January and counting of votes will take place on 1 February.

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