Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today confirmed that she was contesting the upcoming Assembly elections from Nandigram, vacating her Bhowanipore seat in Kolkata, as she released the list of candidates contesting in all 294 Assembly segments going to the polls in eight phases starting from 27 March.

“I have promised them and I always keep my promise. I will be contesting from Nandigram in 2021 election,” Miss Banerjee said as she released the Trinamul Congress candidate list for the state polls.

“I will go to Nandigram on 9 March and file my nomination on 10 March in Haldia.”

Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay will be contesting from her traditional Bhowanipore seat, Miss Banerjee disclosed, as she threw a challenge at her protege-turnedrival Suvendu Adhikari, who crossed over to the BJP in December. Asked how much time she will spend in Nandigram, she said the Nandigram election is “top-ofthe-top” election.

After former Trinamul MLA Suvendu Adhikary defected to the BJP, he had said only Harish Chatterjee Street and Harish Mukherjee Street were given any importance in the Trinamul Congress, these being the streets where chief minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC Youth Congress chief Abhishek Banerjee live.

This time, Miss Banerjee said, the chief minister should represent rural Bengal, pointing to her association with Nandigram where she led the anti-land acquisition movement.

As many as 23 sitting MLAs have been dropped from the party’s list with Miss Banerjee emphasising that this time stress is being given to more youth and women candidates. She said in her 2021 Assembly poll list, there are 48 per cent general candidates who are contesting in 141 seats, seven per cent OBC candidates, contesting in 19 seats, 27 per cent Scheduled Caste contesting in 79 seats of which 11 Schedule Caste candidates are contesting from non-SC seats and six percent Schedule Tribe candidates who will contest from 17 seats and 12 per cent Muslim candidates contesting in 35 seats.

She said there are 240 male candidates, which comprises 82 per cent of the list and 50 women who represents 18 per cent of the list. Miss Banerjee said that she believes in women empowerment and in order to safeguard Bengal from the clutches of the ‘outsiders’ she is fielding women candidates in 50 seats.

The party will be contesting 291 seats, while candidates of the Bimal Gurung faction of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha will be contesting from the remaining three seats in Darjeeling. She also said people who are 80-plus won’t be contesting elections this time keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

State finance minister Dr Amit Mitra is among those who would not be contesting because of poor health. Prominent ministers Partha Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee have been retained from their traditional seats. She said some important people who are left out would be inducted as members of a state legislative Council.

Miss Banerjee also lashed out at the Election Commission and asked it to conduct the election in an impartial way.”Why have you at the behest of BJP appointed the same officers for conducting election who have a tainted past?” she asked.

“This time we will aggressively contest in 294 seats and will not tolerate any partiality of the officers who are in charge of the election,” the Trinamul chief said. She declared, “Khela Hobe, ladai Hobe, jeta Hobe ~ we will play, fight and win the election.”