The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee announced here on Monday the names of its candidates for the coming by-elections from three Assembly constituencies slated for February 23.

The constituencies that will go to the polls are Nalhati in Birbhum district, Rejinagar in Murshidabad district and English Bazar in Malda district.

 The by-elections were necessitated as the sitting Congress legislators from Rejinagar and English Bazar left the party and joined the Trinamool Congress. The Assembly seat at Nalhati fell vacant after Congress MLA Abhijit Mukherjee won the election for Jangipur Parliamentary seat vacated by his father Pranab Mukherjee who went on to become the country’s President.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said that Abdul Rehman will contest the election from Nalhati and Narendra Nath Tiwari from English Bazar while Rabiul Anam Choudhury will be the candidate from Rejinagar.  “Since all the three seats had sitting Congress MLAs after the 2011 Assembly elections, we will urge the people to re-elect Congress candidates,” Mr Bhattacharya told The Hindu .

Charging the Trinamool Congress with engineering defections within the Congress, he said the elections at Rezinagar and English Bazar are being held only because the party MLAs were lured to the Trinamool Congress with offer of ministerial berths.

“We would urge the people to defeat the candidates who have switched sides and joined Trinamool Congress,” he said.

Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, who was elected Congress MLA from English Bazar after the 2011 Assembly elections, is now contesting as Trinamool Congress candidate for the same seat. Similarly, Humayun Kabir who won the Rejinagar seat in 2011 Assembly elections as a Congress candidate is now Trinamool Congress candidate for the seat.

Both Mr Choudhury and Mr Kabir are Ministers in Mamata Banerjee-led Council of Ministers in the State.