Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah is being asked by the party’s West Bengal unit to contest the Lok Sabha elections next year from the state, according to highly placed sources. Sources in the party said that Shah, if he agrees, could either contest from the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency, which is currently held by the BJP, or Kolkata Dakshin (South Kolkata) Lok Sabha constituency, presently held by the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Babul Supriyo of the BJP, a minister in the Narendra Modi government, is the sitting MP from Asansol. The Kolkata Dakshin seat has been a bastion of the TMC. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was elected Member of Parliament five times from the South Kolkata seat till she became the Chief Minister of the state in 2011. After that, the South Kolkata seat went to another senior TMC leader, Subrata Bakshi, who is the present sitting MP from there.

According to sources in the BJP, reports from Asansol do not favour the BJP or its sitting MP Babul Supriyo, hence the talk of fielding the party’s powerful national president Amit Shah from there.

BJP leaders in Bengal that this correspondent spoke to said that Amit Shah was taking a personal interest in the state for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. They said that Shah had formed his own team in every district to monitor the progress and campaigning of the party in the state.

“Amit Shah is taking a personal interest in West Bengal and has given the target of winning 22 seats from the state (West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats). After the rath yatra planned for Bengal concludes on 23 January, it will be clearer as to where Shah will contest the election from. But it is desired that Shah will contest from West Bengal,” a senior BJP functionary said.

BJP’s West Bengal general secretary, Sayantan Basu told The Sunday Guardian, “We will be happy if Amit Shah contests the Lok Sabha elections from West Bengal. This will act as a morale boost for the cadre to take on the Mamata Banerjee government.”

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