Fresh faces abound in the list of candidates released on Sunday by the Left Front for the West Bengal Assembly elections.
Of the 292 candidates (for 294 seats) announced, 149 are contesting for the first time. Candidates for Kalimpong in Cooch Behar district and Sreerampur in Hooghly will be announced later.
“The Left parties always try to move ahead with the idea of renewal. Renewal is a very important agenda for the Front ... We have to keep new candidates, middle-aged candidates and some veteran candidates,” State Left Front Committee chairman Biman Bose told journalists when asked about the inclusion of so many fresh faces.
Its youngest candidate is 25-year-old Shatarup Ghosh. A leader of the Students Federation of India, he is doing M.A. in Rabindra Bharati University.
Many sitting MLAs including nine Ministers have been denied ticket. They include seven Ministers of the Communist Party of India(Marxist) and one each from the CPI and the All India Forward Bloc.
While some Ministers opted out for health reasons, others wanted to focus on building the organisational strength of the party, Mr. Bose said.
Speaker H.A. Halim is also not contesting — a decision he announced earlier, citing his failing health.
Regaining minorities' vote is vital for the Left prospects. A shift in their votes was one of the principal reasons for the reverses the Front suffered in the recent elections. Now 57 Muslims figure in the Left fray. The list of candidates includes 46 women.
Of the 294 seats, 210 have been reserved for the CPI(M), 34 for the AIFB, 23 for the Revolutionary Socialist Party and 14 for the CPI, and the remaining are distributed among the other Front constituents.
Delimitation has shuffled the constituencies of many legislators — notably senior CPI(M) leader and Housing Minister Gautam Deb and Samajwadi Party general secretary and Fisheries Minister Kiranmoy Nanda.